A family member who is struggling with addiction can create a variety of challenges. Money that could support a decent standard of living might go toward purchasing alcohol or drugs. Someone who could help around the house or contribute to the upbringing of children may instead become volatile or negligent because they are frequently under the influence.
Those married to an individual who is struggling with an unmanaged substance abuse disorder may eventually reach the conclusion that the best solution for the family will involve them getting a divorce. How can someone divorcing because of addiction help protect their children from a dangerous situation?
Documenting the issue
Someone struggling with a substance abuse disorder will probably try to keep their challenges as private as possible. They might use cash when buying liquor or going to the bar, and they may try to hide their habits from the people closest to them. Spouses preparing to divorce someone with a substance abuse disorder often need to gather evidence showing how frequently someone overindulges and how it affects their behavior. Such evidence is necessary to have a compelling case to present in court.
Pushing for appropriate custody terms
It will be risky for the children to be alone with someone who is never sober. A parent may need to ask the courts to significantly limit the parenting time of their spouse with a substance abuse disorder. Judges handling custody matters typically want to do what is best for the children. Usually, that means helping ensure plenty of time with both parents. One parent may have to challenge that assumption in court and ask for sole custody or supervised visitation for the safety of the children and the family.
Prioritizing the children’s needs
The parent leaving because of their spouse’s addiction will need to make sure that they focus on what will make the children happier and healthier in the long run. Minimizing negativity toward the other parent, despite of their bad behavior, is important. Parents should also encourage open communication about the situation so that the kids can express their feelings.
Finally, connecting the children with the right types of support, including counseling and even support groups for the family members of addicts, could help them learn how to process their emotions and overcome the painful idea that they are somehow to blame for the addiction-related behaviors of their parent.
Planning carefully and keeping the children the priority are crucial efforts for adults trying to obtain a positive outcome when divorcing due to a substance abuse issue.