child-1152327_300x225The first thing to understand about divorce, especially in cases where one party in the divorce is a substance abuser, is that not all states allow for “At-Fault” divorces. Even in the case of states like Florida or here in California, however, where only a “No-Fault” divorce is allowed, evidence can still be entered documenting a spouse’s substance abuse, and this evidence can, and often does, sway the judge with regards to the settlement, especially where child custody is concerned.

In either case, it’s important to document the substance abuse when and as you’re able, in order to establish a clear pattern of behavior. The more you can document, the more likely you are to win, not only a superior custody position, but to have the upper hand in most every aspect of your divorce settlement.

If you can demonstrate that your spouse’s addiction causes financial hardship in the marriage (and in most cases, there’s a reasonable expectation that it would), you can, in some cases, be awarded a greater portion of the marital assets when the court decides on a division between you, and the spouse with the substance abuse problem is likely to be awarded less in terms of alimony than would otherwise be the case.

Specifically where child custody is concerned, substance abuse can lead to the non-addicted parent getting primary custody, limited, or even supervised visitation by the spouse with the addiction problem, and in extreme addiction cases, you could even be awarded sole custody.

Note here, that in most cases involving substance abuse, alcohol is the most difficult one to win with. Not only is it more difficult to prove, but there’s nothing inherently illegal about buying alcohol, as is the case with so many other forms of substance abuse. Nonetheless, if your spouse has an alcohol addiction problem, you should absolutely begin documenting his or her behavior, just as you would in the case of any other addictive behavior. A pattern of substance abuse gives quite a lot of power to the other side, and you can get far superior settlement terms than you may have gotten otherwise.