Saving Your Sanity: Tips for Divorcing an Alcoholic
Your marriage is on the rocks, and there’s a glaring reason why: Your spouse has a bad drinking problem. The problem has become so severe that life has become unlivable. If you endure this relationship any longer, you’ll lose whatever sanity you have left. How do you divorce your alcoholic spouse so you can start afresh and get your life back on track before you lose everything you’ve worked so hard to attain?
Every Alcoholic Divorce Case is Different
“Divorcing an alcoholic isn’t cut and dry, and that’s because situations like these vary so completely,” said San Diego divorce attorney John Griffith of the family law firm, Griffith, Young & Lass.
Griffith is referring to the abuse doled out by alcoholics who have previously vowed to love and protect their spouses. Some alcoholics become despondent, depressed, and unresponsive; sinking further down to the bottom of whatever bottle they happen to be drinking from at the time.
Other alcoholics may become angry when overly intoxicated, and some become spiteful, passive-aggressive, and just plain difficult to live with.
“What can be said with certainty,” Griffith added, “is that spouses considering divorcing their alcoholic partners should seek the advice of a knowledgeable and experienced family attorney. Only sage advice from a seasoned professional can help spouses get the positive outcomes they desire.”
To make the process as easy as possible, Griffith recommends that you give your spouse an ultimatum: Get healthy, or divorce is most definitely on the table.
Is Your Spouse An Alcoholic? Are You Considering a Divorce?
If the spouse achieves sobriety and maintains it, the marriage could reform a stable foundation, and a partnership like that has a real chance at lasting for the long-term.
On the other hand, if your spouse continues to abuse alcohol, and you in the process, whether through words, actions, or neglect, it’s time to consider hiring a divorce attorney for a swift and positive outcome.
Here are some tips that can make the process of divorcing your alcoholic partner easier on you and any children who may still live inside the home.
- Prove Alcoholism Exists: If your alcoholic spouse commits a criminal offense while intoxicated, it will be easier to prove that a problem exists. Barring a crime being committed, medical records, witnesses to the abuse, admissions of abuse from your spouse, and similar evidence can help to corroborate a past and ongoing issue.
- Protect the Children: If there are children involved and your spouse is in recovery, but that recovery has been short-lived, random alcohol testing may be in order. If your spouse refuses to get help, supervised visitation may be the best course of action. California family law is designed to put the best interests of the children first. A divorce lawyer can help you work out a best-case-scenario to protect you and your children from any abuse during this trying time.
- Protect Yourself: If you are being physically, mentally, and/or emotionally abused, you may have to move out of the family home with your children. If your alcoholic spouse is also the breadwinner, you may have to ask the court to protect any funds the two of you share while the divorce is ongoing. Spousal support and child support may also be called for. These options and others should also be discussed with your family attorney.
- Stop Enabling: If you are the breadwinner and your alcoholic spouse relies on you and your resources to live day-to-day, a rehabilitation program may be called for. During this time, you are likely to get sole custody of the children, or at least sole custody on a temporary basis. Thus, child support won’t be likely in this scenario, however, spousal support may be called for, at least on a temporary basis, and before the divorce is finalized, depending on your individual case. If you are the breadwinner and you are required to pay for inpatient rehabilitation, that will be taken into consideration when determining whether spousal support is prudent at that given time.
- If the Spouse Refuses to Work: If your alcoholic partner is able to function normally despite his or her disease, and still refuses to work, you can request that the Court consider a vocational examination (California Family Code section 4331).
With all of these factors to consider, and these are just some of the elements that can emerge in a California divorce case when alcoholism is the primary contributor to the marriage breaking down, only the advice of an experienced family attorney can give you the best possible outcome for your case.
If you are married to an alcoholic, and you want to finally experience peace of mind while getting the best possible outcome for your case, call or email Griffith, Young & Lass and set up your 30-minute phone or in-person consultation. Our service area includes San Diego, Carlsbad and the surrounding areas in California.
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