Effects of Substance Abuse on Divorce – St. Louis Divorce Attorney

Substance abuse can have serious effects on a number of divorce factors, including the divorce filing strategy.

Substance abuse affects many people in the United States. Substance abuse essentially refers to an addiction to substances such as alcohol and illegal and prescription drugs. Substance abuse and addiction can wreak havoc in a happy family, often taking a happy marital relationship to the point of divorce.

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Filing for Divorce on Grounds of Substance Abuse

Missouri is a no-fault state. A spouse may divorce without his or her spouse having committed any fault. You must prove that your marriage is “irretrievably broken” to petition for a divorce. However, providing evidence of substance abuse even in a no-fault divorce can affect factors such as child custody.

Effects of Substance Abuse on Divorce

Substance abuse can severely affect several divorce factors, including the divorce filing strategy.

  • Substance abuse and child custody – Substance abuse can have significant implications on child custody. Substance abuse impacts parenting ability. Therefore it is less likely that a parent with an addiction problem can get child custody. Courts strongly consider substance abuse, even when deciding on visitation rights. Often overnight visitations are not allowed, addicted parents may be required to undergo substance abuse screening regularly, undergo rehabilitation, etc. According to a St. Louis divorce lawyer, addicted parents are not given any visitation rights in extreme cases, with full custody awarded to the sober parent. If substance abuse leads to a child being harmed or injured by an addicted parent, custodial rights are taken away altogether.
  • Substance abuse and division of assets – Ideally, during the division of assets and property, a fault such as substance abuse is not necessarily considered unless, like in some states, it reflects on the spouse’s behavior during the marriage. The court may award a more significant chunk of the property to the sober spouse as a reimbursement. Such considerations are usually made if the spouse’s substance abuse has implications on the finances of the couple.
  • Substance abuse and alimony – Similar to property division, if addiction and substance abuse of a spouse has negatively impacted the couple’s finances during the marriage, it can affect alimony. The court could then award more maintenance to the sober spouse as a reimbursement for the loss in finances incurred that the addicted spouse has squandered to support the addiction. In some exceptional cases, where substance abuse and addiction render the addicted spouse mentally ill and incapable of self-support, the sober spouse may have to pay alimony to the addicted spouse to cover treatment and rehabilitation costs.

St. Louis Divorce Lawyer

Substance abuse and addiction will typically always give a sober spouse an upper hand during negotiations for settlement. It is always advised to seek legal assistance from a St. Louis divorce attorney if facing a spouse with a substance abuse issue.

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