Filing For Divorce When Addiction Is A Factor

Posted on: 18 March 2016

Recognizing and confronting alcoholism in your spouse can be one of the most difficult things you will ever need to do, but it is an important first step in reclaiming your life, prosperity and happiness. If you have already attempted to help your spouse and have explored addiction treatment options, you may be left with no choice but to end your marriage to protect yourself and any children you have together. Divorcing on grounds of addiction is often fairly cut and dried in most states, but there are measures you can take to present a stronger case and receive your fair share in the proceedings.

Checking Your State's Fault Laws 

In a nutshell, fault grounds for divorce typically imply wrongdoing on the part of a spouse, while a no-fault divorce suggests simple irreconcilable differences. No-fault divorces are now available in every state in the United States, but many states still also offer fault grounds for divorce. Addiction is commonly permissible as fault grounds for divorce along with abuse and adultery, which could help your case and improve your legal standing as negotiations begin. Even in states that only offer no-fault divorces, your spouse's addiction may still be submitted as evidence to bolster your claims. 

Collecting Evidence of Negligence and Abuse

It isn't enough to note that your spouse has a few beers every evening in court; in order to press your case, you will need to collect documented evidence of inappropriate behavior caused by addiction, including financial irresponsibility, missed appointments, lost jobs, arrests, incidents of abuse, text messages and other tangible proof that your spouse's addiction has negatively impacted the lives of you and your children. Your attorney will go through the specifics of your case with you to determine which of these are relevant and help you begin assembling a paper trail of your spouse's addiction. 

Negotiating Custody of Children

The major benefit of divorcing on grounds of addiction is that it can substantially improve your bargaining power when it comes to negotiating custody of your children. Divorce courts are obligated to protect the interests of any children involved, and they are less likely to side with an individual who is not actively seeking treatment for his or her addiction. Depending on the severity of your case, you may be fighting for full or primary custody, but you must clearly represent your ability to provide a more stable and healthy environment for your children than your spouse. 

Setting Boundaries for Visitation

If your spouse will still be a figure in your children's lives post-divorce, you will need to negotiate conditions to protect them while they are out of your care. This may involve prohibiting your spouse from driving with them or requiring that your spouse attend an addiction treatment program to maintain their visitation rights. Although it may be difficult to take a firm stance against your spouse when your children are involved, understanding that addiction is a disease can help you find the resolve to keep your kids away from harmful influences and potential negligence. In time, should your spouse stay on a path to recovery, you may choose to lift these restrictions, but starting from a position of strength is generally advisable whenever addiction is a factor. 

For more information about the divorce process, check out websites like