Substance abuse of any kind can wreak havoc in a relationship. Marriages, especially ones where one spouse has an addiction and the other is sober, are especially prone to disruption. The sober spouse has to deal with his or her addicted partner’s frustrating and erratic behaviors, that can include a reckless use of the couple’s money, continual impairment, and potentially criminal activity in using illegal substances.
All states allow for “no-fault” divorces, where you don’t need to prove any certain activity to legally complete the dissolution of your marriage. However, Texas also allows couples to file for divorce on the grounds of substance abuse damaging the marriage, meaning you won’t have to go through the process of getting your partner’s consent to divorce, as long as you have proof of the substance abuse. Retaining an experienced divorce lawyer in Austin can help you navigate this process.
Even when there isn’t as much need to prove substance abuse to obtain a divorce, it may still play a role in working out your best approach to a divorce.
Substance Abuse and Child Custody
One area in which a court will consider substance abuse is Austin child custody decisions. If your spouse has an addiction or is consistently under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then there’s a strong chance his or her parenting ability will suffer. Because of their obligation to provide children with the best possible standard of living after a divorce, courts will often rule custody in favor of the sober parent.
Depending on the level of substance abuse, there may also be restrictions on the addicted parent’s visitation rights. Courts will often require that parent to complete a rehabilitation program and receive addiction treatment to gain visitation rights to his or her children. If the addicted parent has caused serious injury to the children, there’s also a chance of losing custodial rights altogether.
Substance Abuse and Division of Assets
Child custody is undoubtedly the biggest area where substance abuse comes into play in a divorce, but it can also play a significant role in the division of assets in Texas. This is often connected to how much of a financial impact the spouse’s substance abuse had on the marriage. If he or she spent a significant portion of the couple’s savings on drugs and alcohol, then the sober spouse may receive more of the marital assets as compensation.
Substance Abuse and Alimony
A spouse’s addiction can also come into play when determining alimony. Sometimes the court will award a larger alimony payment to the sober spouse if the addicted spouse drained their joint finances due to his or her addiction.
In some very rare cases, however, the sober spouse may need to pay alimony to his or her addicted partner. This situation is more rare, and only arises when the addiction involves, or has led to a mental illness requiring institutionalization, and disability benefits do not cover the entire cost of treatment.
Building Your Divorce Strategy
In brief, sober spouses tend to have the advantage when it comes to divorces that involve substance abuse. Depending on the other aspects of the divorce, a sober spouse may be able to achieve a favorable outcome without even taking the case to court. If you’re divorcing a spouse with substance abuse issues in Texas, a skilled Austin divorce attorney can help you build an appropriate strategy for negotiations and court. This can help you complete your divorce and get the best outcome for your family. There’s no reason to stay with a spouse who puts his or her substance abuse above your marriage. Contact Abraham Kant Esquire today to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your options.