Divorcing an Alcoholic or Drug Addict in North Carolina

Written by Jonathan Breeden

If your spouse is an alcoholic or has a drug addiction, you’ve no doubt suffered through a lot in your marriage. Deciding to get a divorce can be your first step toward normalcy. The addiction had a huge impact on your marriage, and it can also have an impact on your divorce settlement or judgment. Before you do anything, it’s important to understand your rights in North Carolina and what the law says.

When you are considering divorcing an addict, you want to work with an experienced North Carolina divorce attorney.

At the Breeden Law Office, we are skilled in handling divorce cases and understand the implications of addiction all too well. With offices in Raleigh, Angier, Garner, and Smithfield, call (919) 661-4970 to schedule an appointment.

Grounds for Divorce in North Carolina

In North Carolina, there are only two grounds for divorce. The first is incurable insanity. The second is after a one-year separation period. This is the path most divorces follow. You must live apart for one year, and at least one of you must have intended that the separation be permanent. Addiction can be a reason for why you choose to separate, but it is not the legal reason for the divorce. Talk with your attorney about how to start the clock ticking on a one-year separation.

Addiction and Custody in North Carolina

Your spouse’s addiction will probably cause a lot of stress and concern for the health and safety of your children when they are with your spouse. As a result, addiction is an important factor in determining child custody and visitation agreements.

The court decides custody based on what is in the best interests of the child, and the impact of addiction on the parent’s behavior, abilities, and health is a significant factor in a custody decision. Additionally, any abuse or neglect or domestic violence stemming from the addition will have an impact.

Addiction and Dividing Marital Assets

Marital assets are divided in a North Carolina divorce using equitable distribution. This means the assets are divided in a way that is fair but not necessarily equal.

The court considers the mental and physical health of both spouses in determining how to split the assets. It’s important to talk with your attorney if you are concerned your spouse will use up marital assets to pay for drugs before the divorce comes through.

Addiction and Alimony

When the court is considering a request for alimony, the issue of marital misconduct may come up. Marital misconduct behavior during the marriage, before separation, that includes:

  • Cheating
  • Abandonment
  • Cruel treatment
  • Reckless spending
  • Concealing assets
  • Using drugs or alcohol in a way that makes life intolerable
  • Failure to provide for the other spouse
  • Committing a crime which leads to jail time, separating the spouses

If the court finds there has been marital misconduct based on addiction or substance abuse, the judge can consider the misconduct in determining if or how much of an alimony award to give. It’s up to the judge to decide whether to consider the addiction and how much weight to give it in consideration.

A serious addiction that led to terrible behavior towards you could be significant. And if the addict used marital funds to buy drugs or alcohol or went to jail for possession, that could also lead to serious consideration.

Speak to a North Carolina Divorce Lawyer

If you’re married to an addict and want to end your marriage, you need a knowledgeable and committed divorce attorney who understands the nuances of North Carolina law. In Raleigh, Angier, Garner, and Smithfield, attorney Jonathan Breeden can help you get what you are entitled to, so you can move on with your life. The Breeden Law Office is ready to represent you.

Call us today at (919) 661-4970 to schedule a consultation.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden