Divorcing An Alcoholic


We look at how each of these factors impacts the divorce process in more detail below. Go back to court again and again even after a settlement or divorce. Even though there aren’t real “winners” in divorce—with luck, there’s some equitable splitting of responsibilities and assets—that’s not the narcissist’s point of view. He or she is likely to see himself or herself as a victim, regardless of the facts, and has no intention of meeting in the middle, so you can forget negotiation or mediation.


Those are courageous men and women who have overcome a terrible disease that can have debilitating consequences on the body and essentially every other aspect of life. Every day, week, month and year continues to be a battle for them to remain sober. There are many men and women who have suffered from alcoholism in their life but have achieved sobriety and maintained it.

  • You and your attorney should customize the timing strategy to your specific situation.
  • You may also have to adjust financially after the divorce.
  • They may lose their job, have financial problems, and get into legal trouble.
  • If an alcoholic parent has caused their child harm in the past or has blatantly disregarded the rules given to them by the court, they may be at risk of having their parental rights terminated altogether.

Our firm handles divorce and family law cases in each of the seven Southern California counties. What we write below is validated through our significant experience with California divorce cases that involve substance abuse. Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action. Divorcing an alcoholic also means giving up on your vows and the person you used to love but this decision is necessary especially when the well- being of your family is at stake.

Alcohol can turn a reasonable man violent and this can greatly affect your family’s safety. Seek help and get a protection order if needed. Nagging or pressuring your spouse into changing immediately will not work. Lack of communication, commitment and the drive to change will only make the situation worse. The spouse with an alcohol problem may be allowed to see their child only when they are not intoxicated.

More Helpful Child Custody Guides and Articles

I remember my ex husband saying “if I never took another drink for the rest of my life, you still wouldn’t trust me.” To which I replied, “you’re so right! ” It was the moment I decided the marriage was over. He perfectly clarified for me what I had not realized. He was, as usual trying to deflect responsibility from him to me.

Being out of the bad situation meant my three very young children and I were rid of the effects his addiction had or would have had on us if I’d stayed. And mild or severe, it can be hard on marriages and families. Many people struggling with persistent alcoholism have an untreated mental illness. They may lose their job, have financial problems, and get into legal trouble.

Staying Safe During the Divorce

So, come up with a realistic budget for you to follow. Don’t spend extravagantly until you succeed in divorcing your husband. In the mean time you need to make a plan regarding what you will be doing after the divorce. You can look for a job or start some business depending upon your budget. Recently, after a really bad fight, I decided that I was done. I found and put an offer on a home for myself to start a new life.


The vast majority of people who seek treatment relapse within four years, often making it a lifelong struggle. Your attorney will have dealt with situations like this in the past and may suggest requesting restraining orders. There will also be options for child support and spousal support available that your lawyer can advise you on further. When excessive drinking links with previous abuse or damage to property, a family court might issue restraining orders to protect you. Alcoholism could affect the outcome of child custody decisions, and restriction on visitations might apply, especially if the ex-spouse is still drinking.

I would prefer to help people see alcoholism as a disease, and, thus, forgive the transgressions of the afflicted without an apology. Review your bank, investment, retirement accounts and credit card bills regularly for substantial and irregular withdrawals or charges. Keep a copy of the latest statement at a safe location to minimize the need and cost of your attorney obtaining those documents during the divorce proceedings. “Family functioning in families with alco[…]other drug addiction.” Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, June 2011.

Guides on Alimony, Child Support and Asset Division

While a large percentage of alcoholics lose their jobs, there are also many high-functioning alcoholics. Therefore, your alcoholic husband or wife may be responsible for making the majority of the household income. The supporting spouse does not get any additional rights in the divorce process. However, the stress of a divorce could impact their ability to perform well at work and continue to provide. In many cases, their alcohol dependency worsens and can lead to situations where they become abusive toward their spouse and/or children. An abusive home atmosphere is not at all good for the overall development of your children.

abuses alcohol

Craig Malkin, Ph.D., is a psychologist, author, lecturer at Harvard Medical School, and director of YM Psychotherapy & Consultation, which provides psychotherapy and couples workshops. As a blogger for Psychology Today and the Huffington Post, he frequently writes about psychology and relationships and works with media outlets such as Time, The New York Times, and NPR. Again, time is an arrow in the narcissist’s quiver and he or she also knows that the longer the process takes, the easier you’ll be to manipulate and pressure. Let’s start with why the narcissist—despite all the real reasons any sensible person would be highly motivated to stay out of court—is very likely to end up in it.

While under the influence of alcohol, your spouse is much more likely to be aggressive or violent. Being present during such violence will be emotionally harmful to you and your children, let alone put you and the children at risk for physical harm. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals.

He or she bounces from one job to another and is unable to hold down a job. Dysfunctional drug addicts often have a criminal record, including those for possession and/or use of illegal drugs, and driving under the influence. Overnight visits are not permitted for the alcoholic spouse. The alcoholic parent can only see the child while the other parent is present. It’s not always obvious that there’s a narcissist in the mix, especially if he or she appears to be well-spoken and well-off; self-presentation goes a long way in fooling people. Your ex’s narcissistic tendencies, in fact, may only fully reveal themselves during the divorce process because it’s during conflict that the narcissist shows his or her true colors.

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And every couple has their own unique how does social drinking become problematic as we age. This website’s content is solely for residents of California or residents of the United States or Canada who have a family law matter in California. We do not consult with nor represent any person who is located outside of North America. Our attorneys are licensed solely in the State of California.

Have clear examples and proof of any time you felt unsafe and how you protected yourself, your kids, your property and your pets (stayed somewhere else, called police, etc.). The minute I walked in, I did see someone I know. But honestly, it was comforting, and there was an instant understanding that I wouldn’t tell a soul in my community I saw her there. Also unexpected, I teared up from the start of the meeting and was unable to stop crying the entire time.

How to Protect Yourself During a Divorce from an Alcoholic Spouse

This mix of at-fault and no-fault grounds for divorce can be confusing. Because each state treats legal grounds for divorce differently and may use different wording, check the law in the state in which you or your spouse intend to file. All unique content created by the Addiction Group team is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert before publication. However, the information provided by Addiction Group is not a substitute for professional treatment advice. For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the Addiction Group helpline is a private and convenient solution. Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by American Addiction Centers .

Getting over a relationship with an alcoholic can be challenging, especially if you have a history of happy memories before alcohol took hold of your partner’s life. You cannot expect yourself to provide professional treatment, and you have not failed your partner if you are unable to cure them. The partner with alcoholism promises to change or shows some small signs of changing, giving the other partner hope. May be working and supporting the household, making the other partner financially dependent upon the alcoholic. Effects of Divorce on Children and How to Help Them Through It According to the National Library of Medicine, more than one million children in the United States experience their parents’ divorce each year. In addition, only 60 percent of children in the U.S.

I also felt guilty for allowing her to go there, feeling like it was my fault she was in that situation. I tolerated his continued drinking, even though I knew my kids were around it while at his house. Legally, there was really nothing I could do other than some stipulations in our divorce decree concerning drinking, designed for my kids’ safety. In my heart, I knew he didn’t have the control to adhere completely to the stipulations, but they made him accountable and therefore more careful.