Households across the nation have struggled with addiction.  It could be a spouse or a family member.  Addiction can severely affect the sanctity of the family.  What once was a peaceful and loving home can be torn apart by drug or alcohol abuse, gambling, or pornography addiction which can lead to a divorce. How do you address the problem of addiction when a couple separates? Here are three things to consider when this happens.

The Ripple Effect

A partner who abuses alcohol or drugs, has a gambling or pornography addiction can lead to other complications, including financial problems, infidelity, domestic violence and lying.  Substance abuse can affect not only the spouse but the children, relatives, friends, and colleagues as well. For example, a spouse with a gambling addiction can wreak havoc on the household finances.  A concerned spouse may have good reason to fear that they are going to lose their place of residence because the gambling spouse has been borrowing money against the house to pay for their addiction.   In California, any debt that is incurred during the marriage is presumed to be a community property obligation.  Therefore, the non-gambling spouse would be faced with liability for some of that debt. Although it can be difficult, these things must be brought in the open during your divorce case to properly address them in the best possible way.

What About the Children?

A parent dealing with addiction could also face restrictions when trying to spend time with the children.  A child’s safety is paramount and visits will need to be monitored to ensure that the parent is abiding with Court’s orders.  In certain situations, the state can step in and open a dependency case and a social worker can be involved.

The Advantage of Collaborative Divorce

A parent’s addiction and its impact on visitation can be addressed in a private setting in a Collaborative Divorce rather than in an adversarial setting in an open court.  What might already be a strained relationship between a child and the parent would be damaged even further if the parties litigate the issues.  Allowing for space to address this problem in a collaborative setting with a Divorce Coach and/or a Child Specialist would help mend and reestablish a fragile relationship.

Most Importantly: Seek Help

“Because all addictive illnesses are progressive, the only path for the addict…is a downward spiral – if they don’t get help,” says Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W. for Psychology Today. Although the outcome of a divorce case may not be swayed by receiving help, it is still paramount to address an addiction issue as soon as possible. The outcome may differ case by case, but getting help is vitally important.

If you need assistance regarding mediation or divorce, please contact us at Kim Mediation and Law, where we are dedicated solely to the practice of family law.