How Can Substance Abuse Affect Divorce Proceedings?
Sadly, substance abuse is prevalent in the United States and is the cause of many divorces. When one spouse abuses drugs or alcohol, this can make life very difficult for the other spouse. A family may struggle financially because one spouse has used marital funds to buy drugs or alcohol, and the abusive behavior of an addict may cause other family members to fear for their safety. These are just two of the issues that may present themselves in a marriage involving an addicted spouse.
Before filing for divorce, many people only focus on how different their lives will be once the divorce is finalized. However, it is just as important to realize how substance abuse can affect the divorce process.
A judge will certainly consider substance abuse problems when determining how to allocate parental responsibility (formerly known as child custody in Illinois). A judge’s main consideration is always what is in the best interests of the child. If a parent has a substance abuse problem, the judge may feel that he or she is not able to properly care for a child. In fact, when the abuse is significant, it could endanger the child.
Due to these considerations, when one parent struggles with substance abuse, a judge is likely to award decision-making responsibilities to the other parent, and restrictions may be placed on the substance-abusing parent’s parenting time, such as the requirement that visitation be supervised. It is important to understand that this arrangement may not be permanent. If the parent with the problem undergoes rehabilitation, he or she may request a modification of the child custody order.
When a person is struggling with a substance abuse problem, he or she is more likely to spend money carelessly. If a substance-abusing spouse has spent much of the couple’s money or assets on drugs or alcohol, property division in a divorce can become much more complicated. A judge may decide to award the other spouse a larger share of the marital estate in compensation for the marital assets that were wasted on substance abuse.
Being married to someone that has a substance abuse problem can negatively impact a person’s finances. In addition to awarding the spouse without an abuse problem more marital property, a judge may also award maintenance. This is also sometimes called alimony or spousal support. These payments may ensure that an ex-spouse will be able to support himself or herself following divorce. Maintenance may be appropriate in cases where a substance-abusing spouse earns a higher income than his or her former partner.
Contact an Arlington Heights Divorce Lawyer Today
Substance abuse complicates many marriages and can also complicate divorce. If you expect your ex-spouse’s drug or alcohol abuse to play a role in your divorce proceedings, you should speak to skilled Barrington family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson. He will work to help you achieve the most favorable settlement possible and ensure that your divorce can be finalized quickly and effectively. Call our office today at 847.873.6741 to schedule your free consultation.