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Substance abuse can affect custody, property division in divorce

If you are married to an addict or alcoholic, you understand all too well how your spouse's substance abuse erodes the foundation of your marriage. When there are children involved, the stakes get even higher.

Conversely, if you are the parent in the throes of an unchecked addiction to drugs or alcohol during a contested divorce, you must face the adverse consequences your addiction can have on divorce and custody decisions.

From visitation with and custody of minor children to the way that assets are allocated in property settlements, alcoholism and addiction are substantial negatives to mitigate.

The courts make custody decisions based on what is best for the children. An addict who refuses to enter a detox or 12-step program will likely be denied custody and have stringent restrictions placed on any visitation with their minor children.

However, addicted parents who turn their lives around and get (and remain) sober are free to petition the court to modify visitation and custody orders later. However, it's never possible to regain those lost moments of childhood lost to drugs or drink.

If an addicted spouse requests alimony, the courts may deny the request unless it's linked to participation in Alcoholics Anonymous or a rehab program. Even the division of assets could be affected if one spouse is accused of frivolously spending money on drink or drugs. The sober spouse could ultimately receive the lion's share of marital assets in some cases.

Because of all of the above, one spouse may falsely accuse the other of addiction or greatly exaggerate social drinking habits to make it appear as if there is a problem where none exists.

Should that be the case, your family law attorney can assist with setting the record straight and protecting both your reputation and your rights to custody and share of marital property.

Source: FindLaw, "How Drug Abuse Can Affect Divorce," George Khoury, Esq., accessed May 16, 2017

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