There are millions of Americans that suffer from drug and alcohol addictions. Some are addicted to alcohol, others to prescription drugs and others to illegal drugs.
Battling an addiction can lead to serious negative consequences in one’s life and it doesn’t just stop with them. The family of an addict is also affected which is why so many addicts end up divorced.
Many spouses try to get their addicted loved one to go into drug & alcohol treatment. However, that doesn’t always work. If your spouse is addicted to drugs and you don’t feel you can stay, you should know more about how their substance abuse can affect your divorce. There are different factors that go into determining who gets what in a divorce. Additionally, if you have children with your addicted spouse, they are your main priority. Making sure they are taken care of in the best ways possible is the leading concern during divorce.
Ways Substance Abuse Can Affect Your Divorce
To file for a divorce, nobody has to be at fault. Basically, a married couple can get divorced for any reason and neither spouse has to prove wrongdoing by the other spouse. Even if a married couple just doesn’t want to be around each other anymore or don’t share common interests anymore, they can get a divorce. However, in some areas, you could still file for a divorce based on who is at fault, such as with physical abuse, adultery or substance abuse. In these areas, you could file for a divorce because of your spouse’s’ substance abuse.
Even in the no-fault divorce states, you can still state evidence as to your spouse’s abuse of alcohol and drugs. The reason you may want to do this is because of child custody or other related issues that may come up during the divorce. Generally, the spouse who is sober has more control as to what happens during the divorce. They are often more likely to have things go their way without taking things to court. The addicted spouse generally won’t want to have their name smudged due to their substance abuse, so they may not argue what the sober spouse wants.
How Is Child Custody Affected By Substance Abuse?
One of the times when substance abuse plays a major factor in divorce is when children are involved. Mild to moderate drinking may not affect the decision of who gets child custody. However, if someone is abusing alcohol or drugs, this does impair their ability to take care of their children in the best ways possible. If everything else is on an even slate, the parent who doesn’t have substance abuse issues is more likely to get custody over the children. Now, if the other parent who to attend addiction rehab treatment and be in recovery for a while, this could sway the decision.
Children are the primary concern when it comes to a divorce. The judge wants to make sure they aren’t being put in the middle or being mistreated during the divorce process or at all. This is why the judge takes substance abuse and addiction seriously. They want to be sure the children are in the most stable and loving environment. As a parent, you also want to make sure the addicted spouse is going to take care of your children. Generally, splitting time with both parents would be ideal, but that isn’t always the case with an addiction being present.
How Do Courts Proceed When Substance Abuse Is An Issue?
There are many different options available to help keep children protected when one parent has substance abuse problems. The court may determine supervised visitation or no overnight stays at that parent’s house. The parent with substance abuse issues may be subject to random alcohol and drug screenings, have to attend addiction recovery meetings or get addiction treatment as well. Almost all custody orders, in these instances, would require the parent not to use drugs or alcohol while the children are in their supervision.
In some extreme situations, the court may decide to give full custody to the parent without substance abuse issues and the other parent doesn’t get any visitation. This may happen if the children have sustained injuries while under the supervision of the addicted parent. Sometimes parental rights could be terminated completely if the situation warrants this. This happens in severe situations where abuse is generally a concern.
How Does Substance Abuse Affect Assets?
Generally, courts aren’t going to consider who is at fault for a divorce when they divide up the marital assets. These are the assets the couple has together. However, there are some states, when a spouse’s actions in the marriage, is related to how the assets are divided. For instance, in those states, if one spouse has substance abuse issues, this may determine how much they receive during the divorce.
The sober spouse may get a bigger share of the assets if the addicted spouse caused a negative impact on the finances. For instance, if the addicted spouse spends a lot of the couple’s savings on alcohol or drugs, the sober spouse might get more of the assets as some type of reimbursement.
Is Alimony Affected By Substance Abuse?
Alimony is generally only affected if the addicted spouse caused a negative impact on the finances during the marriage. This is similar to what happens with the assets. In many states, the judge could make the decision to award alimony to the sober spouse if the addicted spouse spends the couple’s savings or a lot of money on drugs and alcohol during the marriage.
Alimony is not always included in divorce proceedings. However, depending on the situation, it may be something you experience during your divorce.
Is The Negotiation Of Divorce Settlements Affected By Substance Abuse Or Addiction?
If one spouse has substance abuse issues or an addiction, that spouse may have less say in the divorce proceedings. Courts do take addiction and substance abuse seriously. They want to make sure the addicted spouse takes responsibility for their actions, especially in cases involving children.
In general, allegations in public about the addict’s issues could harm their career, reputation or even lead to criminal charges being brought against them. That is one reason many addicted spouses don’t generally argue for much in divorce settlements. They don’t want others knowing how bad their substance abuse is or to even have others know about it at all.
If you haven’t been able to work things out with your addicted spouse, it is helpful to know more about how their substance abuse can affect your divorce. There are many aspects that come into play when it comes to a divorce. Not every state is the same and there are different laws regarding divorce as well. No matter what the laws, however, substance abuse is always a serious matter.
Judges do want to see addicts get into treatment. There have even been some instances where couples have gotten back together after the addicted spouse got treatment. While that may or may not be an option, at least now you are aware of how the substance abuse issues in your marriage, could affect a divorce.
Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. https://mountainspringsrecovery.com/