How to Divorce an Addict and Reclaim Your Life

When a loved one is addicted to drugs, it can upend your life and your relationship. When you are married to someone, especially if you have children together, who is in active addiction, you may find yourself looking for the right exit. A spouse’s substance abuse and addiction creates significant chaos in your life, impacting every part of your relationship.

However, we understand from experience that divorcing someone addicted to drugs is no easy task. Divorce is already an emotionally difficult experience, and knowing a loved one is going through substance abuse and addiction can make this much more complicated and difficult.

That is why our team at Chambers Family Law approaches helping families navigate divorce with compassion and knowledge that can help your family recover.

Marriage to Someone Addicted to Drugs Can Be Painful, Confusing, and Overwhelming

Marriage to Someone Addicted to Drugs Can Be Painful, Confusing, and Overwhelming

Addiction occurs when someone becomes dependent upon drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, and is unable to stop, despite the severity of the consequences all around them. In some cases, this may manifest as binge drinking or drug use, such as staying intoxicated for days at a time between periods of sobriety, or it may be a daily habit that impacts your life. Whether the person experiencing addiction in your life is functional or dysfunctional, addiction can have a massive effect on your marriage.

This can be a serious problem if you are concerned about the financial state of your marriage. For example, your spouse may be using or depleting household funds to support their drug addiction. That can impact your ability to survive comfortably, pay bills, and be financially supported.

Worse, someone during active addiction may do or say things that they would not otherwise reasonably do. That includes verbal and even physical abuse. If you feel that your safety is in danger, our legal team is here to help.

When Do I Decide It Is the Right Time to Get a Divorce?

Generally, there is no “correct” time to get divorced. There is only the time when you are ready to take the step towards divorce. That can be especially complicated when you are married to someone experiencing addiction.

Chambers Family Law knows from personal experience how difficult it can be making the decision to pursue a divorce from an addicted spouse. You may still have feelings for your spouse, but you may be afraid for your family and the aftermath of divorcing an addicted spouse. In other cases, you may feel safe, but addiction has irrevocably damaged your personal relationship. In these cases, it can still be difficult, even in the face of danger or financial ruin, to make the decision to divorce your spouse.

However, if you are considering getting a divorce from someone who is addicted to drugs, you have support options. You do not have to file your divorce alone. Our team is here to guide you through the legal proceedings you face when you decide it is the right time to get a divorce.

Your Divorce May Face Complications When Divorcing an Addict

When divorcing someone during active addiction, there are certain difficulties that may be uncovered during the divorce as you proceed. You may find yourself facing complications that someone with a nonaddicted spouse may not experience. Because of this, you may need to speak with your attorney about the possible obstacles your case may encounter.

Keep in mind that these complications may make your case more difficult, but we will be by your side throughout this process. We can provide you with the support legally and generally that can help you overcome the situation and take action. We are here to help mitigate these complications and give you the chance to make the right decision for you and your family, and to live free from the chains of addiction.

Your Spouse May Be Facing Criminal Charges

Your Spouse May Be Facing Criminal Charges

While some addicts may be abusing legally acquired medication, in most cases drug and substance abuse involves the purchase and use of illegally purchased medication or illicit substances. In either of these cases, your loved one may face legal penalties if they have been arrested or are under suspicion by the criminal justice system, which complicates your divorce proceedings.

In the worst-case scenario, their actions can even implicate you in the crime. You and your family may face legal consequences if you cannot prove you were uninvolved in the case. If your spouse has already been arrested and is facing criminal charges, they may also have difficulties juggling both the criminal charges and your family law case.

Concerns for Your Children Impact Your Life

Children are already disproportionately affected by divorce. When one of the parents in the divorce is suffering from substance abuse, that can have an outsized impact on your children.

Beyond the effects on your children, you may also be concerned about getting primary custody of your children when your spouse is addicted. When your spouse is addicted to drugs, you may be concerned about the safety of your children in their care. You may need to speak with your attorney about pursuing primary custody of your children in these situations and implementing safeguard measures to ensure that your children are safe.

Complications for Your Divorce Proceedings

If your spouse is a dysfunctional addict, they may experience difficulties being a part of the court proceedings. They may miss court dates, fail to provide documentation, or otherwise have difficulties navigating these proceedings. That can make your divorce proceedings much more difficult.

In other cases, they may believe they are functional, or they may be in total denial of their addiction. In these cases, they may take offense to the proceedings and may try to push back against the divorce. That can be much more difficult for you both emotionally and legally, as your case may even need to enter litigation.

Co-Parenting Concerns Should Be Addressed Early in Divorces Impacted by Addiction

Co-Parenting Concerns Should Be Addressed Early in Divorces Impacted by Addiction

If you are willing to try and co-parent with your spouse who is suffering from addiction, you may need to take action right away to ensure you get an agreement that works for you. However, you may be concerned about your children’s safety, whether that is because you are afraid of them coming into contact with the addicted parent’s drugs, or you are concerned about their physical safety when they are with your spouse.

In these cases, you may wish to seek primary physical custody and identify a visitation agreement that works for you. You may also want to put into place certain safeguards and measures to ensure your children are safe when with the other parent and that the other parent is not using when they have the children.

During this process, you have an opportunity to address concerns about safety and create safeguards for your children. For example, you may request random drug tests before visitation hours begin. While this may be an extra expense, it can provide some comfort and security that your children are safe.

We can also help you instill other details to your agreement for the well-being of your children. For example, you may add requirements for the addicted parent to attend therapy or a treatment program, or to actively participate in a 12-step program, to not take your children past a certain distance from you, or other details that can limit the opportunities for your children to be endangered. However, if you are worried about your children’s safety no matter what, your divorce attorney can seek primary custody, and when circumstances warrant, try to have visitation rights significantly restricted, limited, or even removed until the addicted parent is in active recovery.

Additional Resources Can Help Your Spouse Toward Sobriety

Additional Resources Can Help Your Spouse Toward Sobriety

You may be ready to seek out a divorce from someone experiencing addiction to drugs, but that may not mean you want to abandon them completely. As you complete the divorce process, you may be interested in supporting your spouse towards sobriety. Our team approaches each of our clients with compassion, with the intent to provide you the support and resources you need for you and your spouse.

Entering a rehabilitation center, 12-step program, or other therapeutic services can help your spouse recover from addiction. Our team often collaborates with Heather Hayes & Associates, a team dedicated to helping those dealing with addiction overcome these circumstances. These resources can make a huge impact in the lives of an addict.

There are also many resources for family counseling and therapy geared towards children who have witnessed a parent experience addiction. Providing your children with healthy coping mechanisms now, during the divorce process, can help your family heal from this difficult situation. Our team of attorneys is prepared to guide you through these difficult situations and overcome the suffering you have experienced because of your spouse’s addiction.

Need Help When Your Divorce Is Impacted by Substance Abuse?

Dealing with the specifics of addiction during a divorce can be a harrowing experience. Even if you do not feel fear for your safety or the safety of your children, you may be worried about the future of your family and of your spouse. This can be difficult even in the easiest of circumstances.

At Chambers Family Law, we know both professionally and from personal experience just how tough it can be, and we are here to make it as easy for you and your family as possible. We have the tools to help you navigate divorce as easily and as healthily as possible for you and the rest of your family.

When you are ready to speak with someone about your divorce case and the struggles you are having when divorcing someone experiencing addiction, reach out by calling or by filling out our online contact form.