Substance Abuse During a Divorce

substance abuse during divorce

All U.S. states today allow a spouse to file for divorce without having to assign fault. In However, in many states you can still file for divorce based and assign fault for issues like physical cruelty, substance abuse and/or adultery. Irreconcilable Differences is most common “No-fault” complaint simply meaning spouses do not get along anymore. In a no-fault divorce the divorce party doesn’t have to produce evidence that the opposing spouse did anything to cause the split. But, even in California and Florida, where no-fault divorce is the only option, evidence of substance abuse is almost always introduced to sway the outcome. Especially, when child custody is being determined.

For divorcing couples, resolving child custody is often be the most arduous and stressful aspect of the separation process because mental health is frequently argued by litigators representing one or both spouses. Compliance with random drug/alcohol testing, or substance abuse treatment program participation are also a frequent outcome when appropriate custody arrangements for dependent children must be determined.

Your Decision-Making Will Be Impaired
Consequences, consequences, consequences… Addictive behavior brings with it an inherent disconnect between fact and fiction. Fact; Addiction causes practicing individuals to make irrational and unrealistic decisions without consideration of the consequences. Fiction; When under the influence of substance of choice, addicts heightened their self-awareness, confidence and mental acuity.

Impaired decision making is frequently accompanied by erratic emotional states, impaired attention/concentration, and feelings of grandiosity. Inhibitions are frequently greatly reduced so, addicts are known to say, do or commit to things that they would not normally when not under the influence. This is no surprise as addicts cannot rationally stop the destructive behavioral-chain to begin with.

Divorce Can Influence Teen Drug Abuse
This all-to-common event, as a result of continuous untreated addictive behavior demonstrated by one of both parents, all-too-often results in the formation of negative characteristics like lower performance in school, reduced health and wellbeing and an increased risk of disruptive social behavior.

Although this negative impact on children is replicated in many empirical studies, other research finds in contrast that children of divorce are not always worse off than children of intact families. Post-marital family situations more commonly the harmony and conflict between the ex-spouses and child behavior as a result of divorce.

A study was conducted a decade ago by the Center for Population and Family Research at the University of Leuven, Belgium measuring the effect of parental divorce or relationship disruption of the family unit as a result of parental use of illicit drugs, prescriptions, alcohol and even tobacco and the delinquent outcomes on impacted adolescents. The study of 1,412 14 to 18-year-old Flemish adolescents concluded that teens who live with a single parent or in stepfamilies even after a separation or divorce are significantly more susceptible to substance abuse themselves as compared to Flemish teens from unbroken family units.

How Your Significant-Other Can Use it Against You
Habitual drunkenness or chronic substance impairment are frequent claims when one spouse can be found at fault. These abuses are found to cause depletion of marital net worth, the divorcing spouse will usually be instructed to ask for a greater amount of remaining assets. Whether your spouse files a no-fault divorce or alleges fault based on chronic intoxication, or evidence of substance abuse, this will certainly affect decisions about child custody and visitation. Even if you think you have effectively hidden your substance abuse or the extent, be aware that your addiction, or extent thereof can lead to an emergency hearing regarding custody or visitation of impacted children. If the court finds that the child safety or likelihood of suffering irreparable harm, loss of custody or visitation can be revoked. In some cases, if your using around minor children, or have shown to endanger your children while under the influence, you could also be charged with the crime of child abuse or neglect, depending on the severity.

In Summary
Don’t go it alone … Especially if you are amidst your addiction or even in early stages of recovery. Having an attorney is a must. Although, in many states divorce proceedings are settled over the course of several hearings and never reach public trial. The sober spouse will have the advantage and sympathy from the courts. The impact of decisions made over the course of divorce proceeding have very long-lasting results and the consequences are many times irreversible.

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