How Addiction Can Affect the Divorce Process – And Outcome

How Addiction Can Affect the Divorce Process – And OutcomeIt can be very difficult to watch your spouse battle an addiction. Whether they are addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or anything else, it will likely impact your and your children’s lives tremendously. While most couples who become married do not ever plan to divorce, it can happen very quickly when an addiction is involved. If you have decided that you are ready to leave your marriage, it is important to know and understand that your spouse’s addiction can affect the divorce process and outcome.

There are many ways that an addiction can affect a marriage. When you learn that your spouse is struggling with an addiction, it can cause various feelings, such as shock, sadness, empathy, and confusion. Many people who discover that their spouse is an addict want to help them get the help that they need. However, if their spouse has been lying to them or covering up the addiction, it can cause disappointment, resentment, and anger, which are all difficult to get over even if the spouse is able to overcome their addiction. Here are a few of the effects of addiction that may arise during a marriage:

  • Lying
  • Citations, legal fines, or jail sentences
  • Manipulation
  • Violent behavior or abuse
  • Losing jobs and income
  • Surprise withdrawals from the bank account/ lost money

What types of addictions can end a marriage?

Several different addictions can emerge over the years and quickly end a marriage, such as:

  • Drug addiction
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Pornography addiction
  • Prescription drug addiction
  • Smoking addiction
  • Gambling addiction
  • Plastic surgery addiction
  • Work addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Video game addiction
  • Social media or internet addiction
  • Cell phone addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • Exercise addiction

How does addiction affect the divorce process and outcome?

Although many spouses will try to stick it out and get their spouse professional help for their addictions, this unfortunately does not always save a marriage. You can fight hard to support your spouse and help them overcome their addictions, but in the end, you might find yourself feeling numb, defeated, and exhausted. Often, even if the spouse can overcome their addictive behaviors, the relationship has already suffered emotionally and financially and is considered irreparable. However, once you file for divorce, it is important to be aware of the various ways that the addiction may affect the divorce process and outcome. The following are a few important elements that may be affected:

  • Fault or no-fault divorce: In New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana, you have the choice of filing for a fault or no-fault divorce. Most people choose to file for a no-fault divorce because it is usually the easiest and quickest route. However, you can choose to file for a fault divorce if you prefer to prove that your spouse’s addiction caused the marriage to end. If you decide to file for a no-fault divorce, you are saying that you and your spouse simply could no longer make the marriage work, which requires no proof of any wrongdoing.
  • Division of assets: Louisiana is a community property state, meaning that all property, debts, and belongings obtained during a marriage are usually divided equally between both spouses. However, when addiction is involved, there is a possibility that the court may give more of the assets to the sober spouse. This may happen if the sober spouse can prove that some of the marital assets were used to support the other spouse’s addiction. For example, if you and your spouse had a savings account that had a lot of money in it but your spouse secretly spent a huge portion of it on drugs, you may be able to prove this and receive a larger share of the marital assets.
  • Spousal support: There are two types of spousal support that a Judge will consider during a divorce, which are interim spousal support and final spousal support. Interim spousal support is temporary and usually does not require the spouse to show proof that they were not at fault for the ending of the marriage. However, if they want to seek final spousal support, they will need to prove that these ongoing payments are essential and that they played no role in the ending of the marriage. While it is usually challenging for a spouse who has an addiction to prove that their addiction did not cause any marriage troubles, it is critical for you to know that it is not impossible. There are also certain cases where the court may feel like the spouse needs financial support while they go through addiction treatment and therapy. If you believe that there is a chance that your spouse may request spousal support, it is crucial that you speak with a New Orleans divorce lawyer right away.
  • Child custody and visitation: If you and your spouse share children, the court will always put their best interests first. Therefore, if it is proven that your spouse’s addiction could create a harmful environment or situation for your children, the Judge may decide to not allow joint custody or visitations. However, most of the time, a Judge will try to work with the spouse who has an addiction and allow some type of visitation or custody once they can prove that they attended a certain number of addiction support group or therapy sessions, checked into a treatment center for a certain amount of time, or can pass frequent and random drug tests.

Has your spouse’s addiction destroyed your marriage? If so, a New Orleans divorce attorney from the Law Office of James A. Graham is here to offer you legal advice about what to do. Our team has years of experience helping and representing individuals who have lost their marriages due to addiction. We will use our knowledge, skills, and resources to ensure that you take the best course of action for your case. Please call our office or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation today.