When you have a spouse who has a substance addiction, it can pose a threat to you, your children and others in various ways. Substance abuse can also impact your divorce process in several ways. If you are divorcing someone with a substance abuse issue, use the tips below to help you protect yourself, your children and the divorce process.
Seek Emergency Orders
People abuse substances on different levels, and the substances can affect people in different ways. For example, a person with a functional addiction may abuse a substance but still have some normalcy in their lives and go on with their typical routines. However, some people can become abusive, dysfunctional or violent when abusing alcohol or drugs. In this situation, the negative behavior may reach a boiling point when they learn of the pending divorce. If you partner is abusive, or may become abusive, there are various avenues that can be taken in order to protect yourself and your children from abuse. These measures include getting emergency court orders and/or Orders of Protection. You should work with an attorney who is experienced in these matters. If children are involved, you should work with a child custody attorney in Albuquerque, for example, to get an emergency order for your child’s custody.
Get Proof of Addiction
A judge will not just take your word that your spouse has a substance addiction issue. Often times, however, the substance abuse is self-evident through erratic and risk-taking behavior and overspending in order to feed the dependency. Regardless, you should expect to provide proof that your partner has a substance abuse issue and the impact it has had on your life.
You may wish to start by taking photos of the drugs or alcohol your partner has and any associated paraphernalia. Do not alter the photos in any way. If your partner has an addiction to a legal drug, such as a prescription, you may be able to get proof by getting prescription receipts or records. If they have previously attended any sort of addiction treatment, those records can help serve as proof as well.
Any family members, friends, neighbors or coworkers who have witnessed your spouse’s substance abuse or its effects can be called to testify in Court. If you are not sure who may have seen your spouse’s behavior as an addict, you can hire a private investigator to locate potential witnesses.
Particularly where children are involved, the court may order the parties to submit to drug testing, however additional evidence may be necessary and, in any event, is always useful.
Ask for Sole Custody
Sole custody of your child(ren) may be an appropriate avenue if, for example, the other parent exposes the child(ren) to dangerous situations, neglects or abuses the child(ren). Using drugs or alcohol in your child(ren)’s presence, is another reason to request sole custody from the court. The list is long of potential problems created by substance abuse and your attorney can advise you how best to protect your children from an addict spouse.
Keep in mind that sole custody is a big hurdle in custody cases. However, the overarching concern of the courts is the child(ren)’s “best interests”. If your spouse’s addiction is harmful to the children, exposes them to dangerous scenarios or otherwise affects, or may affect, the children negatively, sole custody may be an attainable goal. It is important to discuss this with an attorney as the means and contours of sole custody can be complicated and often changes rapidly as circumstances change.
If your spouse’s addiction has impacted your marital assets and debts, be sure to mention this to your attorney. You may be compensated for any increase in debt or wasting of assets related to your spouse’s addiction in the property division settlement section of your divorce.