How to Co Parent with an Addict Ex-Spouse

It is not surprising to learn that many divorces have been filed because one spouse is addicted to either drugs or alcohol. When a person isn’t able to control their behavior to an extent where the behavior begins to harm their relationships then it is truly an addiction.

It is difficult to be married to an addict especially if you have children together. Raising children is hard enough but when your spouse cannot fulfill their part of the responsibilities then it is near impossible to do a good job of parenting.

The Spring Divorce attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have represented clients whose spouses are addicts and would like to share some of the experiences we’ve accumulated in order to assist you, the reader.

Address the Problem with Addiction Head on Before Divorce

When an addict is in the midst of their disease they are not be trusted or believed when it comes to any statement made about themselves or their wellbeing. Having the opinion that they can, “Quit anytime they want, “or that they, “Don’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol, “are the sort of falsehoods that addicts use to justify or downplay their behavior.

To a sober person these sorts of mistruths are obvious but to an addict they may seem as clear cut and obvious as any statement ever uttered. If you are married and suspect your spouse to be an addict of drugs or alcohol it is essential to deal with the problem rather than to hope it goes away on its own.

Having face to face time with your spouse to tell them that you have a problem with their behavior and to assist them in addressing it can go a long way towards saving a marriage and protecting your children from future harm.

Sharing Custody of the children with an Addict

If you already are divorced from an addict-spouse then the situation becomes more dire in that you have no control over the addict’s choices or behavior. Even married persons don’t exert too much direct control over the situation but not living with the addict leaves the ex-spouse to their own devices.

For parents who are joint managing conservators, the non-addict parent should consider hiring an attorney to return to Court in order to modify the prior Court order. A modification should seek to alter the conservatorship arrangement in order to regain control over the possession, access and visitation of the child.

In cases of neglect, family violence or substance abuse a Court can modify the conservatorship arrangement to make the non-addict parent a sole managing conservator of the child. This designation restricts the rights of the addict spouse and the often times the visitation allowed to them with the child.

Examples of behavior that may justify a modification attempt is an instance of drunk driving where the child is in the vehicle or abuse that stems from using drugs or alcohol. A particularly scary situation happened to a former client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC involving her five-year-old daughter and alcoholic ex-husband. On a weekday night, the ex-husband and the child left a restaurant one evening when the parent was intoxicated.

The parent drove for ten minutes before falling asleep on a highway and dragging the side of his truck on the cement barrier in the middle of the highway. This went on for about three minutes before a police officer was able to alert the attention of the driver and pull him over.

Amazingly, the child was asleep the entire time and did not wake up during the incident. Our client was called after her ex-husband was arrested and she arrived at the scene to pick up her daughter. She was, understandably, shocked at what she saw and knew that she needed to take immediate action to avoid a repeat of this incident from occurring.

How to Modify a Prior Court Order involving an Addict parent

A Petition to Modify the Parent Child Relationship was filed where she sought to be named the sole managing conservator of the child. To meet this high burden, our client needed to show:

  1. that the circumstances of a party have changed in a substantial way since the last order was rendered
  2. the current environment of the child endangered the health or emotional development of the child
  3. the change being requested is in the child’s best interests

The parties attended mediation and saw the father agree to some stringent drug testing as well as a restriction on his being able to come into contact with his daughter. What was also important, in terms of a point of negotiation, was that the father agreed to not being able to drive a vehicle with his daughter as passenger except in the case of an emergency.

Because Dad did not have any relapses and had enrolled into an Alcoholics Anonymous class he was able to show our client that he was taking his situation seriously. As a result, he was able to work back into a normal schedule of visitation after a few months of proving to our client that his behavior and decision making was improving.

Attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC- Experienced at protecting families

Even though you may feel like there is nobody to turn to when dealing with an addict ex-spouse, that is certainly not the case. The Houston divorce attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are knowledgeable of the rights a person has to change conservatorship orders that are no longer practical or safe to enforce.

While an addict’s behavior is not completely theirs to determine, when children are involved a parent has to be decisive in doing what is possible to protect themselves and their children. By filing a modification against them, a non-addict parent can assist an addict parent to identify those areas of their life that requires improvement.

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