The best way to prevent problems is to be proactive. Managing Addiction During Divorce happens all the time and can be done well or poorly. Reacting doesn’t stop anything– it just gives you a chance to recover and save face. With a proactive approach to addiction in your own family law case, you’ll be able to put a plan in place so that you’re ready for whatever comes your way.
The good news, for those worried about the wellbeing of children and other vulnerable parties, is that courts have a lot of experience in dealing with addiction. Family courts are no strangers to these issues and they will often take immediate action if a threat is present in relation to the stability or safety of the environment that the individual and/or the children may be living in.
Speak up immediately if you have any concerns about the safety or wellbeing of either yourself, your soon-to-be ex, or your child(ren). Be honest, but be transparent and real with the courts and your lawyer. If you are displeased with your partner’s drinking habits, you shouldn’t tell the courts that they’re a terrible parent. They might still be a good parent that just needs a little help. Ask yourself how the drinking specifically effects your children.
You wouldn’t want the same done to you, after all. Divorce and custody doesn’t have to be a bitter, ugly battle. In fact, it’s better for everyone if it isn’t. Keep the following tips in mind to help you avoid it all costs when you are also dealing with an addiction at the same time.
Making a Plan
The best and most important thing that you can do for yourself and your family law case is to come up with a plan to manage the addiction through the legal process. If you are the one with the addiction, this could mean coming up with a plan to attend more meetings or support groups, keeping trusted friends on call, and staying away from environments that might further encourage a slip-up. Of course, this is just an example.
Working with a qualified attorney will help you come up with the best solution. If you are divorcing someone who is struggling with addiction, you might need to start educating yourself on addiction and how the disease works so that you are prepared to handle it.
In all cases, you should also be age-appropriately honest with the children involved. Addiction is a disease, and the addicted parent isn’t “bad”. They’re sick. Normalize talking about it and encourage your children to come to you with questions or concerns.
The goal here is to make things smooth for you, but also for the children involved. Thus, a large part of your plan should include helping them through this difficult time. You’ll also want to talk to your lawyer about necessary protections and ways you can prevent the addiction from impacting your case or your wellbeing. For example, you might want to discuss protecting financial assets so the money doesn’t get spent on fueling the addiction.
Perhaps you’ll need to seek monitored visitation, restricted custody, treatment agreements, or even a protective order. Regardless, you need to make sure that you know your options and are prepared for the battle ahead. By understanding all of the legal aspects and putting certain protections into place, you’ll be able to feel safer and regain some of the control that you have been missing in this whole process.
Like addiction recovery, divorce is something that people have to accept. Addiction can damage a lot of relationships and Managing Addiction During Divorce is essential to The personality changes, emotional issues and manipulation, and even financial struggles can all push spouses so far apart that there is no return. There are several other elements at play, though.
For example, imagine if one partner gets sober and is able to improve themselves as a person. They may realize that they’re actually not compatible with their spouse or that they are heading in different directions. Still, many people continue in their marriages, ashamed to consider divorce because they don’t want to admit failure.
Divorce isn’t a failure. It’s a step forward, and it’s a chance for both of you to be happy. You shouldn’t feel anything negative about getting a divorce, especially if there’s an addiction involved that’s being seriously impacted or that is affecting the relationship. Often, the fuel for addiction in divorce is the fact of the split itself– people feel like they’ve “failed” their marriage when that’s not the case at all.
Other Tips for Managing Addiction During Divorce
- Make sure that you choose an attorney that’s experienced with divorce and family law, as well as addiction and other mental health or emotional issues. Having someone with experience on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
- Consider the children first and foremost. If children are involved in your divorce, do whatever is necessary to protect them from the dangers of the addiction and provide as stable of an environment as possible. If you are the one struggling with addiction, be willing to work with your lawyers and the courts to do what is necessary for an outcome that is fair and agreeable for everyone.
- There are several factors impacting court decisions when substance abuse is involved, including:
- The severity of the addiction or substance abuse and its impact on parenting ability
- Any history of criminal activity or charges
- History of violent behavior towards children or the other parent
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Steps taken to seek treatment or ensure a commitment to sobriety
- It’s not just drugs and alcohol. As discussed, there are certain other behaviors and activities that can create troublesome and life-altering addictions for some people. Shopping, gambling, and even sex addictions have all been the cause of several relationship issues, including divorce and custody disputes. Don’t think that your case “doesn’t count” if it doesn’t involve substance abuse.