man drinking alcohol

A marriage can end for a variety of reasons ranging from simply realizing you are incompatible to finding out that one spouse committed adultery. Addiction is a disease, but one that can be difficult or impossible for a marriage to withstand. If substance abuse is a contributing factor in your divorce, you may be wondering if and how it will affect the legal processing. Reach out to a Sussex County, Sparta divorce attorney to learn more about your rights and how substance abuse can impact your divorce.

How Does Drug or Alcohol Use Impact Litigation?

During litigation for a divorce case, each spouse will be represented by a lawyer who will provide the court with information and advocate on behalf of their client. If your spouse’s substance abuse was a contributing factor in your divorce, it can impact a judge’s decision in terms of child custody, property division, and spousal support.

  • A judge will usually not grant full custody to a parent with a substance abuse problem as it is not in the child’s best interest. Being raised in an environment that may have drugs or alcohol easily accessible or with a person who may be physically or verbally abusive can cause serious issues during a child’s development. Depending on the severity of the parent’s addiction they may be granted partial custody or no custody with supervised visitation.
  • Because New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, property division will be decided based on fairness not simply split directly in half. In many cases where one spouse is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, the other non-using spouse will be awarded more property or assets. This can be the case for numerous reasons. For example, the addicted spouse may have caused damage to their family home, car, or other property. They also may have used money from a jointly owned bank account or made bad financial decisions relating to their addiction. In these cases, the addicted spouse’s actions resulted in problems for the other spouse. They may be awarded more of the shared property or assets as a way to counteract their losses.
  • Alimony payments can be impacted by one spouse’s drug or alcohol abuse. If the non-using spouse financially supported the addicted spouse or the using spouse took savings to fund their addiction, they may owe higher spousal support to the other spouse. However, if the addicted spouse has a diminished earning capacity due to their addiction, the other spouse may have to pay alimony. It will depend on the details of your specific circumstances and relationship.

How Can I Prove Substance Abuse During a Divorce Case?

Proving the substance abuse of the other spouse will be important to ensure that you protect your child and finances. Your first step should be to acquire the services of a skilled and trusted lawyer. With their help, you can gather information and evidence including:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Witness statements
  • Financial records
  • Medical records
  • Police reports

You should document how the addicted spouse’s actions have affected you and your family. Your lawyer will be able to present the evidence and explain how you have been negatively impacted by your spouse’s actions.