How a Spouse’s Addiction Can Impact Property Division and Child Custody Amidst Divorce

As most of us know, millions of people around the world suffer from serious addictions to illegal drugs, prescription medication, and alcohol. Those who are dealing with addiction can wreak havoc on their spouses and family. Eventually, this substance abuse problem can ultimately lead to divorce. If you are currently parting ways from a spouse with addiction, you must understand how this can impact property division and child custody. Here we explain further why notifying your divorce attorney in Tampa, FL about this issue is so important. 

Division of Assets

Depending on the state you live in, the court may or may not consider who is at-fault when splitting up the marital estate. Some states factor in a spouse’s behavior while in the marriage as relevant to a division of property verdict. The fact that your spouse has an addiction problem may influence the judge’s decision on how much joint property each receives. The court may choose to award a significantly larger share to the spouse without the addiction problem if the spouse with substance struggles had caused them financial distress. 

Child Custody

The court always prioritizes the wellbeing of the children when deciding which parent should have custody and whether visitation should be permitted to the other parent. Minor to moderate drinking habits during the marriage that didn’t cause harm to the family dynamic may not drastically affect the court’s decision. However, if the substance abuse problem led to violence in the home, then the judge may be dissuaded from giving that parent joint custody or visitation rights.

In severe circumstances, the court may even take away the addicted spouse’s parental rights, if they are seriously concerned about the children’s safety. The court can also enforce that the addicted parent submits to random drug and alcohol testing and complete a treatment program. You must let your attorney know if your spouse’s addiction had become a problem in the marriage, so actions can be taken to protect you and your child from harm. 

Evidence of Spouse’s Addiction

As your attorney may inform you of during a consultation, it is imperative that you have evidence to support your claims about the other spouse. The court will take these accusations very seriously and having photographs, video, and witness statements pertaining to drug addiction can be influential. Evidence of your spouse’s addiction problem will be a key element in the outcome of your divorce settlement. Examples of useful evidence to bring to your attorney include:

  • Statements from friends, family, or other people who have witnessed your spouse abuse drugs, or saw the impact the addiction had on the family unit.
  • Proof that shows your spouse struggled to maintain employment and support the family due to the drug problem. 
  • Photographs of injury your spouse caused you and/or your children after using the abused drug. 
  • Evidence of the drug itself and/or paraphernalia in your home. 
  • Incidents in which your spouse failed to take care of your child due to the addiction (such as not picking them up from school, driving with them in the care while under the influence, etc).

Thanks to The McKinney Law Group for their insight into family law and how a spouse’s addiction can affect child custody in divorce.