Divorce From A Substance Abuser: It's A Complicated Road

Divorce often comes with unexpected turns, hurdles, and other challenges. Divorcing someone in a substance abuse health crisis does not disappoint in this area. If you've come to the end of a partnership with someone who is abusing alcohol, prescription medications, illegal drugs, or another substance, it's essential you know what you might be up against.

Basic Rights

The fact that your ex-spouse has a substance abuse problem does not mean that they don't have any basic rights when it comes to the court system. You must still abide by every other guideline that you would if your partner did not suffer from this type of medical condition, such as any state-mandated waiting periods and notification guidelines. If you fail to honor the basic rights of your ex, you will only jeopardize the legality of the divorce process.


You cannot make a claim of substance abuse in court and expect the court to immediately back your statement. The court will require evidence to support any claims of substance abuse. An attorney can assist with this step, but documented arrest records and a record of treatment visits may be able to help. Keep in mind, there are harsh consequences if you make a false claim. This type of public claim can cause a great deal of trauma to a person's reputation and the court will not take this calculated move lightly.  

Child Custody Plan

If your spouse suffers from an addiction concern, their status will significantly affect the child custody process. In fact, in many instances, the abusing parent is not granted any level of custody over the children. For this reason, it's important that you have a solid child custody plan prepared beforehand. When in court, if the judge can see that you are prepared to take full custody of the children and have a plan in place, he or she may be willing to grant you full custody more readily. 

Division of Property

Addiction will also play a large role in the division of property process. Often time, if two parties are unable to agree on terms, the court will divide assets down the middle. However, when there is documented substance abuse on the record, the court will often give more of the control to the sober spouse. As a result, even if you and your ex-spouse can't agree on the terms of the divorce, the court may decide to award you more than half of the assets.  

An attorney can help you along this sometimes uncertain path. Contact attorneys like those at Winstein, Kavensky & Cunningham, LLC. for an in-depth consultation about your situation.