3 Different Ways That A Spouse's Addiction Can Affect Your Strategy For A Fault Divorce

In most states, all divorces are considered no-fault and assets are divided based on financial records alone. However, a few states still offer fault divorces in which one spouse can qualify for extra support, assets, or custody by proving the other party caused the divorce through behavior like alcohol or drug addiction. Find out how addictions alter the strategies used in a fault divorce before your day in court.

Requesting Drug Tests

First, don't assume that it'll be easy to get the judge to require your spouse to undergo drug or alcohol testing just because you claim they're an addict. You need hard evidence in most cases, and at least basic recordings demonstrating their inebriated behavior, in order to get a judge to order court-mandated testing. Your lawyer can help you determine what evidence is needed and how to collect it without violating your spouse's right to privacy, which would invalidate any information you gather. Keep in mind that you'll open yourself up to testing by requesting it through the courts, and you may have to cover the costs if you're planning to use the results as evidence to support your side of the story.

Considering Custody Issues

It's worth the effort of proving an addiction to drugs or alcohol if you're concerned that your spouse's chemical dependencies will put your child's safety at risk. However, don't assume that your spouse will get no visitation rights just because they admit to a drug or alcohol problem. Instead, it is more likely that the court will minimize risks while allowing the parent to still see their child while imposing limits on overnight visits or traveling in a vehicle with the impaired individual. If you think your spouse's addiction is so dangerous that it poses a constant risk to the child, you'll need some kind of evidence of the severity of the danger, such as previous serious injuries sustained by the child due to neglect or abuse.

Changing Financial Decisions

Finally, you may be able to request a higher alimony amount or be rewarded with more than half of the common assets from the relationship if you can prove your spouse's addiction damaged the shared finances. For example, bank statements that show you fell behind on mortgage payments due to your spouse spending the money you deposited at a bar give you a good chance of winning more money as part of your divorce settlement. However, it's also possible that you could end up paying for a spouse's recovery from addiction too. Let your lawyer advise you if it's worth bringing the topic of addiction into the case based on the possible risks and rewards.