Living with a spouse who has an addiction can be extremely difficult. When your spouse is unwilling or unable to get help for that addiction it can lead to divorce. A Murfreesboro contested divorce lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby discusses how to manage divorcing an addict.
Living with Addiction
When an addiction creeps into your marriage it can eventually wreak havoc on your relationship and your entire family. Whether your spouse has an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or something else, it can be difficult to decide when to call it quits on your marriage. Unfortunately, addicts often need to hit rock bottom before they are ready to accept help. As the spouse of an addict, you may have threatened divorce in the past in the hope that it would shake your spouse enough to get help; however, a true addict often needs to actually experience such a worst-case scenario before deciding to make the necessary changes. Try to remember that an addict cannot simply turn off his/her addictive behavior. Moreover, the fact that your spouse has an addiction does not mean he/she no longer loves you and/or your children. It may, however, mean that the only way to protect yourself and your children is to get out of the marriage.
How Does Your Spouse’s Addiction Impact Your Divorce?
The unfortunate reality is that just as your spouse’s addiction impacted your marriage, it is equally likely to impact your divorce. Some common ways in which addiction may affect your divorce include:
- Grounds. One of the first decisions you will need to make when you decide to divorce your spouse is whether you want to file a no-fault or a fault divorce. Like many states, Tennessee now offers both options and “habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs” is one of several fault grounds that can be used if you choose to file a fault divorce. Keep in mind that if you allege fault on the part of your spouse you will ultimately need to prove that allegation during the divorce. That, in turn, is likely to turn your divorce into a contested divorce.
- Children. If you have children, your spouse’s addiction has probably already had a negative impact on them. As a parent, you want to protect them from any further harm. That may cause you to request supervised visitation or even try and prevent visitation altogether. Because the law favors both parents’ continued presence in the lives of children post-divorce, trying to limit parenting time will likely be an uphill battle.
- Division of assets and debts. Most addictions have a financial as well as an emotional impact on the addict and the addict’s family. That means you may be facing a significant amount of debt that needs to be addressed in your divorce. It may also cause you to feel that an “equitable division” of marital assets should result in a significantly larger share of those assets being awarded to you in your divorce.
- Support. If you expect to be the primary residential parent post-divorce you will also probably be asking for your spouse to pay child support. Just as the law encourages both parents to remain active in the lives of their children after the divorce is over, the law also expects both parents to continue to financially contribute to the care and maintenance of the children post-divorce. The fact that your spouse had an addiction does not exempt him/her from paying child support. It may, however, mean that you will continue to have issues with receiving the ordered child support after the divorce is final if your spouse continues to avoid getting help for his/her addiction.
Contact a Murfreesboro Contested Divorce Lawyer
If you have additional questions about how to manage divorcing an addict in Tennessee, it is important that you consult with an experienced Murfreesboro contested divorce lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.