Are you considering divorcing a spouse who has trouble with substance abuse? Anyone experiencing a divorce can tell you that there are all kinds of mitigating factors that may impact divorce proceedings and outcomes. One particular issue that can have a substantial bearing on your divorce agreement is addiction. When one or both partners suffer from drug or alcohol issues, matters may become more complex than ever. A good divorce attorney is your best bet when facing these issues.
Marriages Ruined by Substance Abuse
The statistics on marriages when substance abuse is involved are not encouraging:
- Close to 30 million people are married to an alcoholic or drug addict.
- Nearly 10% of divorces are related to substance abuse;
Is Divorce the Right Choice for You?
Experts advise considering divorce under certain key circumstances involving addiction:
- Married life is substantially impacted due to substance abuse;
- Self destructive behavior has long-term or severe impacts on you and your family;
- Your spouse refuses to participate in counseling sessions, or attends sessions with negligible outcomes;
- Your spouse lies, hides things, fails drug tests, and/or is responsible for “disappearing” money;
- Your spouse engages in dangerous behaviors while under the influence of prescription drugs, illegal substances, or alcohol;
- Cheating, beating, or other irresponsible behavior accompanies substance abuse;
- You find yourself embarrassed and unwilling to face your family and friends due to symptoms and events related to addiction;
- You make excuses for your spouse’s addiction and related behaviors on a regular basis.
Before Filing for Divorce
As you embark on this difficult period of your life, try to establish a strong support network of family, friends, and professionals. Groups like Al-anon, Nar-Anon, and Families Anonymous can help you through the tough days ahead. In addition, some practical things you should consider include:
- Securing your finances;
- Helping your spouse to find professional services;
- Documenting any issues connected to the addiction;
- Finding support for your children as they experience the divorce;
- Hiring a responsive attorney.
Your Divorce Agreement
In addition to the typical separation of property and debt issues that all couples face in divorce, (California is a Community Property state) when you divorce an addict, additional measures must be taken, especially when dependent children are involved. It is essential that your divorce agreement include required participation in a reliable drug- and/or alcohol-testing program. Visitation must be contingent on clean reports, or must be supervised.
Furthermore, you should consider the possibility that the mention of divorce may result in more extensive drug or alcohol abuse. This, in turn, may lead to anger and potential violence. Be sure to secure a safe place to stay for yourself and your children. Continue reading →