Special to DadsDivorce.com
Addiction is something that commonly leads to marital breakdown, whether it is drug and alcohol addiction or gambling.
Once you realize that your partner’s addiction is out of control it may be too late to save the marriage and hiring a divorce lawyer may be the only way to protect yourself and your children from harm.
The Impact of Addiction
Mention the words divorce and addiction in the same sentence and many people will jump to the conclusion that it is the male that is the addict. This is far from the truth.
Many women may also have addictions that lead them to behave irrationally, to lie, to cheat and to plunder the family finances to feed a habit. If you have been a loving husband and a decent father this is a difficult cross to bear.
Watching a person change and behave in an unacceptable way is tough, arguably more so when you have felt responsible for the well-being of your partner and family. Even putting emotion aside, being legally bound to a woman who is out of control can have unforeseen and potentially expensive consequences.
Symptoms of Addiction
The American Psychological Association stresses the importance of communication in relationships, yet the nature of addiction can often be secretive. You may have had suspicions for some time that your partner has some type of secret, yet some addictions take time to provide clear evidence to the loved ones as to the nature of the problem.
The Kwik Med website also suggests that the best relationships are based on honesty yet, for many addicts, keeping the truth from their partners is pretty much a full-time job. There are some tell-tale signs with some addictions, particularly in relation to alcohol. Your partner’s social drinking might increase or she may start to drink more often on work nights.
Drinking might increase immediately before and after social events or you may notice more empty bottles in the trash than you remaining drinking together. Vodka especially is a favorite drink of the secret alcoholic as it does not give off an alcoholic scent.
You might also notice some physical symptoms such as a lack of energy or motivation. Your partner might lose interest in her appearance or exhibit poor memory, increased appetite, slower reaction time and paranoid thinking.
If your partner is gambling heavily you’ll probably notice a rapid deterioration in family finances as well picking up on her lies to explain away where money has gone.
Know Your Rights
Divorce laws obviously vary from state to state but there is a general acceptance that addiction can be grounds for divorce, especially if it falls into the category of habitual drunkenness or drug addiction.
Most states that accept these types of addiction as grounds for divorce will stipulate that the addiction must be a fixed, long-term habit that is happening regularly or often. If your partner is regularly leaving the family destitute because she is spending money on alcohol then this could be considered grounds for divorce.
The law does not differentiate between a man or a woman when addiction is the sole issue being cited as grounds for divorce.
Where things can become complex in divorces based around addiction is if your ex accuses you of having the same addiction and tries to identify you as the enabler of her addiction. For example, your partner might have been drinking to excess before you split but you have knowingly funded the habit for a time and on many occasions drinking with her.
Many courts would refuse to accept drunkenness as grounds for divorce if the other party had encouraged or participated in the behaviors.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse states that addiction is ultimately a disease, and some courts might take a view that a good father should be looking to help the mother of his children with the addiction at first rather than heading straight for the divorce courts.
There are times, however, when addiction spirals out of control and an addict is only capable of doing harm to the ones that love them. You have the right to leave a marriage destroyed by addiction and a duty to remove your children from way of harm.
The courts will generally support a divorce petition where addiction is clearly making a relationship impossible and the gender of the non-addicted spouse should not be an issue.