Divorcing An Addict? If You Have Children, Keep These Things In Mind

Drug addiction is at epidemic proportions in the United States today, and it can affect people in all walks of life. Many of those people have families -- and addiction can take its toll on even the healthiest of marriages. 

If you're in the process of divorcing an addict, there are certain things that you need to keep in mind right from the start when there are children involved.

You have to take steps to protect yourself and your children.

Yes, addiction is a disease, but it's a disease like no other because the addict has to want to get well before recovery can begin. Many addicts simply aren't ready to commit to their own recovery and get into treatment until they hit rock bottom.

Taking the steps necessary to protect yourself and your children from the addict's self-destructive tendencies is not a failure on your part. You have an obligation to provide a stable environment for your children -- regardless of your marital vows.

You can't keep the addiction secret and protect your children.

You may have a sense of loyalty to your spouse that makes you want to keep his or her addiction quiet. Maybe you're embarrassed or even worried that bringing the issue of addiction up in court could affect your spouse's career. 

Unfortunately, trying to keep the addiction quiet and the issue out of your divorce means that your spouse could end up with shared custody of the kids -- and that's not a good thing for your children. You owe it to your children to do your utmost to protect them, which means telling your attorney about your spouse's addiction and making sure that the court has the information to make an appropriate decision about custody and visitation.

Restrictive visitation is about the safety of the children, not punishing your spouse.

If you ask the court to order supervised visitation for your spouse because of his or her addiction, your spouse is likely to be angry. However, it's important to remember that you aren't doing this to penalize your spouse for his or her addiction or failings. You're doing it to make certain that your children are safe.

Addicts aren't necessarily bad parents, but they may exercise bad judgment while in the throes of addiction. That can include things like leaving drugs where the kids can get them, going on a bender while the kids are home, and being too high to take care of the kids' basic needs. Supervised visitation protects your children from all of that. You can petition the court to change the visitation to unsupervised at a future date if your ex-spouse eventually gets sober.

Keep in mind that the more tangible evidence you can provide of your spouse's addiction, the more seriously the court will consider the issue when making custody decisions. Ask your divorce attorney what evidence you should look for and what legal methods you can use to obtain it prior to heading into court. Contact a firm, like The VK Law Firm, for more help.