Substance Abuse & Divorce

Written by Jonathan Breeden

March 28, 2018

Divorce is an all too common outcome when your spouse is dependent on drugs or alcohol. An addiction to any substance is costly. It can take up most, if not all, of your spouse’s income. Beside the money, there is a significant emotional cost to substance abuse. Addiction causes personality changes. Due to their illness, they may no longer be capable of acting as a kind and dependable spouse or parent. All of these factors and others are why marriages involving substance abuse often end in divorce.

If your husband or wife is an alcoholic or addicted to drugs and you have decided to seek a divorce, contact a North Carolina divorce lawyer at Breeden Law Office right away. We are here to guide you through the divorce process with compassion and ensure your rights are protected. Call us at (919) 661-4970 to schedule a consultation today.

North Carolina Allows No-Fault Divorces

In North Carolina, you do not have to accuse your spouse of causing the divorce. You can seek a no-fault divorce after a period of separation. You and your spouse must live apart in separate residences for at least one year. After this, you can ask the court for an absolute divorce.

North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, meaning the only grounds for a divorce is separation with the intent to remain separate and apart for one year. You do not need to prove your spouse is dependent on drugs or alcohol in order to receive a divorce.

Substance Abuse May Affect Your Property Distribution

Depending on how your spouse’s addiction impacted your marital finances, you may or may not wish to bring it up during the divorce. If your spouse’s addiction made little difference to your family’s financial health, then you may pursue an equitable distribution of your shared property without regard to their dependency.

However, many addictions drain family funds. Your spouse may not only have withheld all or part of their income for you to fuel their addiction, they may have used your money or taken money out of your family’s savings. If your spouse wasted marital assets to continue their drug or alcohol abuse, then you may ask the judge for a greater portion of the remaining assets than your spouse.

Substance Abuse May Impact Child Custody

Substance abuse may not come up during a divorce. However, this issue matters when it comes to child custody. You may ask for full custody of your children if you believe your spouse’s addiction causes them to be a physical or psychological danger to the children. This is particularly a factor when there may be drugs in your spouse’s home that your children could get their hands on.

It can be difficult to air your spouse’s dirty laundry in court. You may feel as if you are taking their children away from them. However, if you cannot trust your spouse to be sober and functional when they have the children, then it is absolutely necessary to fight for full custody. You should also speak with your divorce lawyer about asking for your spouse’s visitation to be supervised.

A Divorce Lawyer Can Help

No two divorces are exactly alike. This is particularly true in divorces where one spouse has a substance abuse issue. Addiction may have little-to-no influence on your divorce. This is common when you and your spouse do not have children, there are no allegations of domestic violence, and your spouse did not waste marital assets. More likely than not, your spouse’s substance abuse must be discussed in court to ensure you receive a fair outcome and protect your children.

Divorce lawyer Jonathan Breeden is here to help you and your children during the divorce process, and he will fight for you to receive the best possible outcome in your case.

To discuss how your spouse’s substance abuse may affect a divorce, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970 to schedule a case consultation.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden