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Divorcing an Addict in Washington State? What You Need To Know

Posted by Elise Buie | Sep 16, 2021 | 0 Comments

The divorce process is painful enough, but divorcing a spouse in Washington State who's addicted to drugs or alcohol adds a whole new layer of challenges on top of an already tough situation. Your spouse's addiction may be something you've been dealing with for years, or it might be the main reason behind your split. Either way, divorcing your spouse while they're battling an addiction can be grueling for you and your children.

As the spouse of an addict and the one who knows them best, you might end up dealing with much of their harmful behavior. So, to make divorcing an addict in Washington State as painless as possible, it's best to know as soon as you can what to expect during the divorce process, how to cope, and what resources are available to you that can help.

What does it mean to divorce an addict in a no-fault divorce state?

Divorcing in a no-fault divorce state like Washington means you can't cite your spouse's addiction as the reason for your divorce. That said, their addiction will almost certainly play a role in your divorce in other ways. For example, people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol often act in a way that can make them hard to deal with, unstable, and even dangerous to themselves or others. These are factors that a court will take into consideration during divorce proceedings.

For example, if your spouse has a history of time spent in rehab, a police record, or failed drug tests due to their addiction, a court will be much less likely to grant them the same privileges they would if this were not the case. Hiring a Seattle divorce and family law attorney who's experienced handling divorce cases where one spouse is an addict can make the process run smoother.

What is the impact of addiction on child custody?

If you and your spouse are parents, the court will take additional steps to ensure that you're both competent, capable, and responsible enough to take care of your children. Where there are allegations of alcoholism and or other addictions in the mix, this process becomes more intense.

More specifically, a judge will weigh all relevant factors, including your spouse's addiction, before determining what type of custody arrangement will best suit you and your family. In so doing, a judge will put the best interests of your children at the forefront of their decision-making, considering whether your spouse's addiction will interfere with them safely and healthily co-parenting.

If a shared residential schedule and overnight visitation are off the table as viable options because of your spouse's addiction, the court will likely offer alternative solutions to allow your child to see both of their parents. Those options may involve shortened visitation periods and supervised visitation. A court might also require your spouse to undergo random drug and alcohol screenings to maintain visitation privileges. Other options include completion of a rehabilitation program and then subsequent testing to ensure their sobriety when spending time with children.

Which options a court will invoke will rest on the nature and severity of your spouse's addiction. A court might also eliminate parental rights entirely. However, such a ruling usually occurs only in the most extreme cases where a parent has a history of acting in a way that's harmful to their children.

Addiction can affect property division, spousal support, and mental health.

Divorcing an addict might also impact property division and spousal support. Typically, Washington State courts seek to divide assets equally between a divorcing couple. However, asset division becomes more complicated if one spouse has squandered large, unexplainable sums of money during the marriage or has used assets to perpetuate further and fund their addiction. In these types of situations, a court would likely factor such actions into their calculations.

The mental health of a spouse suffering from addiction can likewise play a factor in divorce proceedings. For example, if your spouse is experiencing mental health issues and those issues are determined to be a cause of their addiction, in that case, a court might order that money be allocated to help treat their mental health condition post-divorce.

Indeed, divorcing a spouse whose addiction is rooted in mental health can become particularly complicated, both legally and emotionally. Hiring an experienced attorney can help you navigate this trying process.

When divorcing a spouse who's addicted to alcohol, Soberlink can help.

When co-parenting with an individual who suffers from alcohol addiction, it's critical to receive continued assurance that that parent is sober. Soberlink, an app designed to monitor sobriety remotely, can be a great tool. Soberlink documents sobriety in real-time and sends results to contacts, such as a co-parent, attorney, or any other individuals invested in the safety of the children.

Sharing information offers peace of mind to parents who must entrust their child to a spouse with a history of alcohol addiction. Data inputted into Soberlink is also admissible in court, making it a valuable tool for parents wishing to maintain a caregiver role with their children. For instance, in child custody cases, Soberlink can help a parent prove they're sober in the present while assisting them in establishing a pattern of working toward recovery.

Without Soberlink, court litigation can become that much more gruesome, putting the parent-child relationship in jeopardy. The easier it is for a parent to prove they can provide a safe living environment for their child, the more likely it will be that they'll play an active role in their child's upbringing. Plus, by monitoring sobriety and keeping the subscriber accountable, Soberlink promotes a healthy lifestyle for them, one without dependency.

Contact a Seattle divorce and family lawyer with experience in divorce and addiction.

Divorcing an addict in Washington State creates a unique set of issues, making it more important than ever to enlist the assistance of a Seattle divorce and family lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases. Our team at Elise Buie Family Law Group has represented both those suffering from addiction and the people they're married to, all while going to great lengths to prioritize the best interests of their children, if they have any.

We understand how complex the divorce process can be when dealing with addiction and empathize with our clients' unique circumstances. Whatever stage of the divorce process you find yourself in, we're prepared to help. Call us today.

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About the Author

Elise Buie

Passionate, creative, problem-solving attorney who crafts solutions rather than obstacles. Elise spends significant time educating her clients on healthy communication skills. Elise also ensures that her clients make informed decisions by understanding the future emotional and financial implications of their decisions. Your family's future is our first priority. Elise teaches her clients new skills to empower them in the future as they adjust to the new family structure. While divorce ends a marriage, it is the beginning of your new, often times, more authentic life. Elise will help you begin that new life with new skills to handle any future challenges.

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