If you are in a marriage where your spouse is dealing with an alcohol or drug addiction you know how difficult it is can be on a family. There are ups and downs associated with your spouse’s mood. There are medical issues that come with the effects of abusing substances that the human body does not want to ingest.
There is also the emotional harm done to your children and other family members- including you. Deciding how to approach a situation like this requires a great deal of thought and consideration, and even after doing so it is sometimes hard to feel completely comfortable with the decision that you make.
Many people after considering their options and attempting to work with the spouse to attend therapy or counseling decide to end their marriage and file for divorce. Even if you believe that divorce is the correct path to take (and it may well be) it is not necessarily the case that involving a child custody dispute within the divorce is what is best for your children.
The divorce attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC would like to offer our thoughts on the subject in order to share our perspective on how substance abuse, divorce, and fighting over the kids is hard combination to manage.
How you feel vs. How you should act
It is completely understandable to feel upset, disgusted and downright angry at your spouse if he or she has shown an inability or unwillingness to deal with a drug or alcohol addiction. I will point out that not all people who abuse drugs or alcohol have the ability to control their behavior due to physiological and psychological factors that go beyond the “choice” to consume these substances.
Aside from that, all people have an ability to make positive decisions for themselves or to at least respect the attempts of loved ones to intervene on their behalves if they are unable to care for themselves.
Your initial instinct in a situation such as this may be to file for divorce the first chance you get and to engage in a contentious custody dispute with your abuser-spouse. In certain circumstances (especially where physical violence has occurred) this reaction may be justified.
However, I would argue that in the majority of divorces where one spouse is a drug or alcohol abuser this mode of thought probably is not the best way to proceed.
Fighting over the kids can ultimately hurt the kids
What clients will sometimes lose sight of in the midst of a contentious and emotionally draining divorce is that their actions can have long ranging and serious impact on their children. It is not only the physical safety or your children that you will need to be concerned about in the context of a spouse who is a substance abuser, but also their emotional wellbeing.
A child in this situation has most likely been neglected by the substance abusive parent and needs certainty and stability more than ever at the outset of a divorce. Your child is already losing whatever normalcy existed in their life.
Attempting to further disrupt that equilibrium by severely limiting their other parent’s contact with them through a costly and nasty legal fight can contribute to feelings of unease and anxiety.
Children want to feel like they are being taken care of and are free to have relationships with both of their parents. Custody disputes that turn into legal battles can take time, attention and resources away from the child of your marriage.
Letting a Court have the final say on child custody can be a potential disaster
The divorce process in Texas allows the parties to a case many opportunities to settle their disputes outside of the courtroom. Whether this is through direct negotiation with one another, attorney based negotiation or formal mediation are the main methods utilized during a divorce.
Most divorces in Texas never see the inside of a courtroom because out of court settlements are the norm rather than the exception.
The reason this is the case is that by negotiating with one another on the unique issues that their family faces, you and your spouse are able to determine tailor made outcomes for your divorce case. This obviously can have a long ranging impact on all aspects to the divorce, especially the agreements that can be reached regarding custody and visitation of your child.
You and your spouse know much better than a judge the specific issues that need addressing and how best to address them. A judge has the best of intentions when creating an order but has a limited amount of knowledge regarding your family and its dynamics.
Furthermore, a courtroom battle can create further animosity between your spouse and yourself. When your spouse has his or her own addictions to be concerned with, this is another potential point of conflict that can be avoided if handled correctly.
How to support your spouse even after a divorce
I know the first reaction you may have to reading the title of this section would be to roll your eyes or chuckle to yourself. Why would I want to support my spouse after we’re divorced? I mean- we’re not even spouses at that point.
While that is a true statement, you and your soon to be ex-spouse are still parents of the same child. Even if you find yourself taking care of the child on a day to day basis much more often that your spouse, it is important to communicate with your spouse as frequently as you are willing to do so and to encourage the strengthening of the relationship between your child and their other parent.
The parent-child relationship is not a zero-sum game. Just because the relationship between your child and their other parent gets stronger does not mean that your own parent-child relationship will suffer or diminish as a result.
What’s more- continuous and frequent contact between your child and your ex-spouse may be just the sort of motivation he or she needs to continue down a path towards sobriety.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can help you during your divorce
Legal representation is critical during a divorce and this is especially true during a divorce involving children and a substance abusing spouse. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC not only are knowledgeable of the law that affects
Texas divorces but are sympathetic and effective advocates for families. If you are interested in learning more about our office please do not hesitate to contact us today.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Kingwood Divorce Lawyer
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with ar Kingwood, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Kingwood TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.