In Texas, the stakes in divorce involving substance abuse are incredibly high, especially when children are involved. Here, we’ll delve into the critical intersection of substance abuse and family law in Texas, highlighting how addiction can significantly impact custody decisions and the well-being of families. This article offers a straightforward exploration of the legal ramifications and provides essential insights for those navigating these complex challenges.
How Substance Abuse Influences Divorce Outcomes
Money fights and infidelity commonly drive people to divorce in our country.
These reasons for divorce breach trust and gradually erode the marital relationship, often leaving behind a mere shell of a marriage that eventually collapses. As a family law attorney, I have observed these issues as the primary causes in most divorces that the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, represents.
Substance abuse, unfortunately linked to these issues, also leads to divorce. Spouses struggling with addiction witness the detrimental effects on their health and marriages. While some seek help, others may not recognize their substance abuse as a serious problem until it’s too late.
The impact of substance abuse on divorce is significant. In this blog post, the attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will delve deeper into this topic. The presence of children in a divorce amplifies these effects considerably.
However, let’s start by discussing how substance abuse can affect your divorce settlement if you and your spouse do not have children.
Substance Abuse for Spouses Without Children
If your spouse is addicted to drugs and alcohol and you file for divorce, you are likely to find that their substance abuse problems will not impact your case all that much. There are exceptions to this general rule. For example, if your spouse treated you poorly due to their addiction, then you may have an opportunity to cite cruelty as a fault grounds for divorce. This would allow you to potentially receive more in a settlement or a trial when it comes to your community property division.
Another way for substance abuse to impact your divorce as a childless couple is that your spouse could have been spending large sums of your community income on their addictions. It can be argued that this is wasting of community assets.
A judge would look at all of the circumstances of your case before deciding one way or another. There is no guarantee that either of these situations would lead to the hypothetical results that I just laid out, either. While substance abuse could have been the leading cause of your divorce, that does not mean that you have the upper hand or an advantage in divorce negotiations with your spouse.
Substance Abuse for Spouses With Children
In divorces involving children, substance abuse plays a pivotal role in determining custody and visitation. Courts focus on the children’s safety, often limiting a parent’s visitation if they struggle with addiction. Initially, contact may be minimal, increasing only with proven sobriety.
Supervised visitation is common for parents with addiction issues, where a court-approved supervisor monitors interactions with their children. This measure protects children from potential harm due to impaired parental judgment.
Courts may enforce rules like prohibiting alcohol use before visitation and require regular drug testing and substance abuse counseling. As the addicted parent demonstrates sustained sobriety and commitment to counseling, the court can gradually expand their visitation rights.
If a parent consistently maintains sobriety, they might progress to unsupervised visitation during or after the divorce. However, if there’s a relapse or the divorce concludes earlier, unsupervised visitation might be delayed, contingent upon ongoing sobriety and compliance with court directives.
What Effect Will Marijuana Have On Your Divorce?
As more and more states decriminalize marijuana, you may have been led to believe that using marijuana is not like using another drug. After all, if it’s legal, how bad can it be?
Remember, Texas law prohibits using or growing marijuana. If you undergo a drug test, it might detect trace amounts of marijuana in your system from up to three months prior. Testing positive will lead a court to limit your visitation rights with your child. Expect regular drug testing until you demonstrate sustained abstinence from all substances.
Protecting Your Children From a Spouse That Abuses Drugs or Alcohol
Photos often substantiate allegations of substance abuse in Texas divorces, particularly when they capture bottles of alcohol or drug paraphernalia. Sometimes, the substance abuser themselves posts these photos on social media, leading to unintended consequences. Attorneys skillfully search social media sites to uncover an opposing party’s missteps.
If you possess receipts or credit card statements showing excessive alcohol purchases, it’s wise to keep them accessible. The reality is that if your spouse leaves home, they might take any evidence of their substance abuse with them. Accessing these items while they’re still in your home can be crucial.
CPS must investigate every allegation of child abuse or neglect they receive. They will contact your spouse and initiate an investigation. Reporters to CPS remain confidential.
If your divorce case has already started, you can instruct your attorney to file a motion for emergency or temporary orders to address these issues. This motion filing alerts the court that your case isn’t typical and that a standard possession order may not be suitable for your spouse. If immediate concerns require court intervention, this motion provides a way for the court to assess and decide the necessary actions.
Questions about substance abuse and divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you are in a marriage where your spouse is abusing drugs or alcohol, you need to take the steps necessary to protect yourself and your children. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, to learn more about divorce and how substance abuse plays a role in this process.
Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week to answer your questions and discuss the services that we can provide to you and your family as clients of ours.
Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.