3 Things To Know About Divorcing An Addict Or Alcoholic

3 Things To Know About Divorcing An Addict Or Alcoholic

by Aug 7, 2019Divorce

Going through a divorce with an ex-spouse who is an alcoholic or addict of some kind can be very difficult. Regardless of whether your former spouse’s addiction was present during the marriage or appeared after separating, it will likely have an impact on how your divorce case proceeds.

If you are considering initiating a divorce (or are in the middle of one) with someone who is an alcoholic or an addict, there are three essential things to keep in mind.

1) California Is A No-Fault Divorce State

California is a no-fault divorce state, which means when you file for a divorce, it doesn’t matter why you’re filing for divorce. If you want a divorce because your ex-spouse is an alcoholic, that’s fine, but the court (in theory) doesn’t consider that when deciding the case.

However, if you can prove that your ex-spouse has problems with drugs and/or alcohol, that evidence will almost certainly affect a judge’s decisions during your case. A judge may withhold certain types of privileges to from your ex during the case.

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2) Addiction Can Impact Child Custody

California courts are extremely vigilant when it comes to protecting children during a divorce. The primary concern of every judge is to ensure they make decisions based on the best interests of the children involved.

If you believe your ex is unfit to care for your children because of their drug or alcohol consumption, you need to present evidence of that to the court.

Rather than awarding joint custody to a parent who is a proven addict, the court may consider one of several alternatives, including:

  • The addicted parent may be allowed visitation rights when he or she is sober
  • The addicted parent may only be allowed supervised visitation
  • The addicted parent could be required to submit to regular or random drug and alcohol screening
  • All overnight visits might be off-limits for the addicted parent
  • The addicted parent could be required to go to a rehabilitation facility, Alcoholics Anonymous, or another type of help group

In an extreme situation, the court may consider abolishing your ex’s parental rights altogether. While rare, this can happen if your ex’s addiction has caused direct harm to your children.

3) Property & Spousal Support Can Be Impacted

In a typical divorce case, the court will do its best to divide all marital property evenly between you and your ex-spouse. However, if there is evidence that your ex spent a considerable amount of money because of, or to perpetuate their addiction, the court will take that into account and may award you a larger portion of the assets.

The same can be true for alimony. The court might award you more spousal support if your ex spent an unfair share of the marital assets.

Work With An Experienced Attorney

There is already plenty of stress and frustration to go around in a normal divorce. The additional stress and frustration that comes with dealing with an alcoholic or addict can quickly become overwhelming.

The good news is that if you choose an attorney who has experience working with these kinds of cases, it will make your life much more comfortable. At Vonder Haar Law, we’ve seen and heard it all before, and we know how to handle challenging cases like dealing with alcoholics and/or addicts.

For a free consultation about getting a divorce, please contact us today.


At Vonder Haar Law Offices, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 529-3200.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

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