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What You Need to Know About Substance Abuse and Divorce


Divorce is a complicated matter when children and property are involved, but the circumstances become much more complex when your spouse has substance abuse issues. Many people realize that substance abuse is impacting their marriage and are unable to continue with the relationship.

Substance abuse impacts one's ability to parent and act as a good spouse, so it makes sense if you are considering divorce. Still, you must pay close attention to the steps you take as you pursue a divorce or separation.

Read on to learn more about what you should do if your spouse has substance abuse issues and you are considering divorce.

You Need to Know the Signs

Individuals who use drugs exhibit a number of signs that many people fail to notice. When you come to court, you may need to provide evidence that your spouse has been using drugs. You may also need to use these signs to demonstrate that your spouse should not have custody of your child or even visitation rights.

Substance abuse often comes with an increased desire for privacy, chronic lying, and loss of interest in activities the individual used to enjoy. Physical abuse is also sometimes a sign of substance abuse.

When you can recognize the signs of substance abuse, you can better serve your children by coming back to court to address new issues. Even after treatment, relapse is a common concern.

The Judge May Order Drug and Alcohol Screenings

If you bring drug and alcohol issues up in court, the judge may consider ordering drug and alcohol screenings before granting custody or visitation of a child. The judge may also order the spouse to participate in substance abuse treatment.

Keep in mind that a judge can order drug and alcohol screenings for both parties rather than just for one. You should be prepared to have your own history called into question if your spouse brings it up in court.

The Substance Abuse May Impact Asset Division

If you can prove that substance abuse played a significant role in financial loss in your marriage, you may be able to seek a larger share of assets for reimbursement. For instance, your spouse may have sold your expensive jewelry or even a car with the intent of purchasing illicit substances.

On the other hand, a former spouse with substance abuse issues may still be owed alimony. This is not uncommon, especially if the individual in question is attending a rehabilitation facility and has not been able to work.

Consider Family Therapy

Even if you opt for divorce, you should still consider family therapy, as it can help you handle issues involving children. You can attend therapy with your spouse to build better communication skills after your relationship has been affected by drug use. Sometimes, the court may even order therapy.

Individual therapy for your spouse is helpful too. With about 20.1 million people in the United States living with substance abuse issues, therapy is increasingly common.

You Need a Family and Divorce Attorney

You should always consult with a divorce attorney before making big moves in the face of substance abuse. Strategizing with a lawyer before pushing an intervention or other action is helpful. While the state offers self-help materials on the web, only an attorney can address your specific concerns.

When you talk to your attorney, make sure you are specific about issues. Don't try to hide your spouse’s substance abuse in court.

When you are ready for divorce, you need somebody strong to represent your rights and the rights of your children. Call the Fredrick J. Northrop Law Offices to learn more about divorce when substance abuse is involved.