5 Tips for Divorcing a Spouse Who Has an Addiction Problem
Making the decision to file for divorce can be very painful and full of emotions. There are a multitude of reasons why a couple may ultimately split, including infidelity, financial problems, domestic violence, or simply growing apart. One factor that can lead a spouse to seek the dissolution of his or her marriage is if the other spouse has an addiction or substance abuse problem. This can include an addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or even shopping. Behavior of this kind is often caused by a mental illness such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, bipolar disorder, and more. It can be especially difficult for the addict to accept the fact that his or her marriage is over, which can cause a lot of conflict during the divorce process. If you are considering legally ending your marriage, it is important to seek professional legal counsel if your spouse becomes combative in any way.
People who are addicted to controlled substances exhibit certain behaviors that make it difficult for loved ones to interact with them. Addicts can be functional or dysfunctional depending on the severity of their abuse. They may not only pose a danger to themselves but to those around them or even strangers. For example, an addict can become violent and physically or verbally abusive after a binge. In addition, if someone gets behind the wheel of a car and is drunk or high, that impairment can cause an accident with injuries to other motorists on the road.
If you are still living under the same roof and your spouse is acting erratically, planning your exit strategy is crucial in beginning the process of leaving. Here are a few ways that you can prepare:
- Gather important documents related to the marital estate (mortgage title/deed, vehicle loans, bank accounts, retirement savings).
- Document the addiction through videos, photos, emails, or text messages of the drug or alcohol use, or receipts or credit card statements showing the compulsive shopping or gambling.
- Find a relative or friend who can act as an eyewitness of your spouse’s addiction and abuse.
- Seek an order of protection if you fear for your safety or that of your children.
- Obtain a financial restraining order to avoid your spouse from dissipating assets.
It is important to note that in some cases, mediation may work for you and your spouse to work out an agreement regarding the division of property or spousal maintenance. However, if your partner is not willing to negotiate or is fighting you on child custody, your case will likely have to go to court. A skilled family law attorney can advocate on your behalf by proving that your spouse is an unfit parent.
Contact a Palatine Divorce Attorney
Getting a divorce can be a trying experience even under the best circumstances. When your spouse is an addict, that can exacerbate the situation and lead to a highly contentious process. A seasoned Northwest Cook County divorce lawyer can help you navigate the proceedings and protect your rights every step of the way. Attorney Nicholas W. Richardson has handled many types of divorce cases and understands the difficulties involved in the dissolution of your marriage. To learn more about the ways we can assist you and to schedule a free consultation, call us today at 847.873.6741.