How Does Alcoholism Affect Your Divorce?

How Does Alcoholism Affect Your Divorce?

Alcoholism affects nearly 15 million people across the United States, and if your spouse is one of those people, you know how destructive and difficult living with someone who is an alcoholic can be, especially if their reckless habits start to affect your children. 

If your spouse’s alcohol addiction has led you to consider getting divorced, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll go over how an alcoholic spouse affects your divorce case and what you can expect during a potential divorce proceeding. 

Violence and Alcohol

If your spouse’s behavior causes you fear or their drinking places you in a dangerous situation, you can and should consider getting a restraining order to ensure the safety of you and your children, which will be processed much quicker than the actual divorce. If you are in imminent danger, call the police first. If your spouse or partner’s behavior creates a situation that you feel is no longer sustainable, contact us to discuss options for moving forward with a divorce and the ramifications of alcohol or substance abuse issues on custody. 

No-Fault Divorce

California is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you do not need to prove anything like infidelity, abuse, or dependence on drugs or alcohol in order to get divorced. All you have to do is say that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences,” and the courts will grant your divorce. 

However, when divorcing an alcoholic, in some situations, it may actually be beneficial to bring up your spouse’s alcohol abuse problem in order to make sure the divorce arrangement is safe for you and your children. 

Child Custody and Support

One of the main reasons to talk about discuss your partner or spouse’s alcoholism in your divorce case is if you think it has affected or will affect your children’s safety or well-being. Often one parent may seek a custody agreement that puts in place certain protective measures – like the use of soberlink – so the children are more protected in the custody of the alcoholic parent. 

The court has an obligation to rule on custody matters in the best interests of the children, and understandably, this often includes keeping children away from an alcoholic parent while that parent continues to drink, and putting in place protective measures to ensure that should the parent relapse, there is a plan in place already to address these issues. Contingency plans, supervised visitation, random alcohol or drug testing, and the use of soberlink can all be considered in crafting a custody plan. 

Your spouse’s alcoholism can also affect how child support payments are calculated. For example, if your spouse’s alcoholism has affected their professional life and resulted in unemployment, what they owe in child support may be calculated differently than if they were employed.  

Proving Alcoholism

If you do decide to bring your spouse’s alcoholism into the divorce proceedings, you should be prepared to demonstrate it. Evidence for this might include: 

  • Testimony from someone knowledgeable about the spouse’s alcoholism
  • Criminal charges relating to the spouse’s alcohol use (DUIs, etc.)
  • Your own testimony
  • Evidence of frequent alcohol purchases

Divorcing an Alcoholic 

Aside from custody and support issues tied to drinking, divorcing an alcoholic can also be complicated by the drinking spouse’s unavailability, use of community funds during and after separation to support their habit, and bad behavior which can prolong any court action. We at Hart Ginney LLP are familiar with the many facets of this type of complicated divorce. We can help you put a plan in place that works for you, protects your children, and focuses on a brighter future. Hart Ginney’s compassionate and aggressive lawyers are here to help take the burden off your shoulders and get you and your children the relief you deserve. 

With years of experience covering a wide range of divorce cases, our team is more than ready to help you take the next steps. Connect with us today to learn more about how we can help you. 

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Oakland, CA 94612

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