Divorcing a Spouse Battling Addiction

If your spouse is struggling with an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or any other potentially harmful behavior, this can be a tough situation. Often, a person with an addiction will resort to behaviors that can erode trust and drain the family’s finances. This can have a devastating impact on your marriage as well as your spouse’s relationship with your children. If your spouse’s addiction has caused irreparable damage to your marriage, divorce is an option. It is highly recommended that you contact a divorce lawyer who has experience with divorces involving addiction issues.

Is Addiction Considered Grounds for Divorce?

New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you can seek a divorce based on irreconcilable differences. This legal term means that you and your spouse can no longer get along, and there is no chance of a reconciliation. However, you do have the option of seeking a fault-based divorce in New Jersey as well. Substance abuse is one example of legally recognized grounds for divorce. If you intend to pursue a fault-based divorce, citing addiction as the grounds, this will likely impact your divorce settlement, including child custody, spousal support, and the division of marital property.

Courts in New Jersey prioritize the best interests of the children, so if one spouse has addiction issues, the court may order supervised visitation or limit custody rights to ensure the safety and well-being of the children. Additionally, addiction issues may also impact the division of assets and debts, particularly if marital property was misused or depleted due to the addiction. Seeking legal counsel from an experienced attorney is essential in navigating the complexities of divorcing a spouse with addiction issues in New Jersey.

Will My Spouse’s Addiction Affect the Outcome of Our Divorce?

Whether you file for a fault-based divorce citing addiction as the grounds or a no-fault divorce, your spouse’s addiction issues may impact the outcome of your divorce settlement. The following are some of the main issues that must be resolved during the divorce process:

  • Custody issues: Substance abuse and any other type of addiction will be weighed heavily when determining the outcome of a custody agreement. The court’s priority is to rule on a custody order that is in the children’s best interests. Depending on the circumstances of your spouse’s addiction, the court may decide that you should be awarded sole legal custody of your children to protect them from your spouse’s substance abuse issues. A judge may also allow your spouse visitation rights, provided they are supervised and that they abstain from the use of alcohol or any controlled substances before and during the visitation period. The details of a custody order will depend on the nature and severity of your spouse’s addiction.
  • Spousal support: Your spouse’s addiction issues are more likely to affect an order for spousal support if your spouse’s substance abuse negatively impacts your finances.
  • Division of marital property: In no-fault divorce states like New Jersey, courts do not necessarily consider fault when dividing marital property. They will divide the marital property equitably or in a manner the court deems fair rather than an automatic 50/50 split.

What Are the Steps Involved in Divorcing a Spouse With an Addiction Problem?

The following are essential steps to take when divorcing a person with an addiction:

  • Keep a journal of your spouse’s drug or alcohol use.
  • Collect photographs documenting your spouse’s drug or alcohol use.
  • Maintain receipts, credit card statements, and other electronic statements that show transactions of drug or alcohol purchases.
  • Save records of your spouse’s attendance at rehabilitation facilities or the dates that your spouse started and stopped attending Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
  • Keep copies of criminal records if your spouse was arrested for drug use or driving while intoxicated.
  • Collect statements from witnesses who can support your claim that your spouse has serious addiction issues.
  • Contact an experienced divorce lawyer when you are ready to divorce a spouse with addiction issues.

Our Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Represent Clients Who Are Divorcing a Spouse With Addiction Issues

If you have decided to file for divorce from your spouse who has a drug or alcohol addiction, do not hesitate to contact our Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. We understand how difficult this can be, particularly when you feel powerless to help. Our team will assist you with every step of the divorce process, protect your legal and financial rights, and negotiate the best possible settlement outcome. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville, Morristown, and Freehold, we serve clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, Morris Plains, and Monmouth County.