Wail Sarieh
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What You Need to Know About Divorcing an Alcoholic

Divorce

Divorce itself is hard, but what if you need to divorce an alcoholic spouse? Will the process be different or the same?

Unfortunately, the experience is never the same – even if you were to compare your case to another case where someone had to divorce an alcoholic spouse. That is because every divorce has its own unique factors that influence the outcome of that case; therefore, your own unique situation will determine how difficult (or easy) the divorce process may be. Also, if the alcoholic spouse continues to abuse alcohol, the abuse problem can become an issue with child custody, support, and more.

So, how do you prepare to divorce an alcoholic husband or wife? There are steps that you will need to take to initiate the process – and these steps will make the process smoother, too.

It is important to note that the comments in this post are not to be used as legal advice – instead, they should be a jumping-off point. You will still need to consult with a divorce attorney in Orange County regarding your case to see what applies to you, and to formally start the divorce process.

Divorcing an Alcoholic vs. a Past Alcoholic

Alcoholism is a medical condition where a person drinks too much or becomes unable to live a healthy, normal life because of alcohol overuse. If the person whom you are divorcing compulsively uses alcohol on a daily basis, there is a big difference between that behavior and someone who has suffered from alcoholism in the past, but who has since then recovered. If he or she has achieved sobriety and maintained that, the issues are much different – and the alcoholism may not play a factor in your divorce at all, because it is no longer an issue. That is why we are focusing on the aspect of divorcing someone who is suffering from active alcoholism, rather than a recovered alcoholic.

Divorcing an Alcoholic When There Are Children Involved

If there are children involved, your divorce case will become much more complicated. The spouse who is divorcing the alcoholic parent will have an emotional tug-of-war going on between the desire to keep children involved in the family, and keep the alcoholism away from the children. It is important to realize that you need to focus on what is best for your children – and sometimes, that may mean not being exposed to someone’s condition. The courts will automatically defer to what is best for the children, as well.

As a parent divorcing an alcoholic spouse, Family Code Section 3011 states that the abuse will be considered in custody when the abusing parent has a habitual problem with alcoholism. Before the allegations will be considered by the court, the court must have an independent examination, which can include written reports from law enforcement, probation departments, social welfare agencies, medical records, rehabilitation records, or other organizations that have provided alcohol abuse treatments to the parent.

This basically means that your word is not enough. Even if you know that the other parent is abusing alcohol, you must have independent corroboration from sources that are not tied directly to the outcome of your custody and/or divorce case. If the spouse admits to the problem, then you do not need corroboration from a third party or independent source, but rarely will an alcoholic spouse admit that he or she has a problem.

Speak with an Orange County Attorney

It is important that you explore all options when divorcing someone with a drug or alcohol abuse problem. You will want to speak with a family law attorney as soon as possible to get your child custody, visitation, and divorce in order. Schedule an appointment now with the attorneys at Sarieh Law Offices by calling 714-542-6200, or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.

Wail Sarieh
By Wail Sarieh