One of the saddest aspects of being a family law attorney is running into clients and opposing parties addicted to drugs or alcohol. Drug and alcohol abuse is a trait that is common among families that are failing on some level, and the result of those failing is often divorce.
It is always terrible to see families torn apart because one or both parties to a marriage are addicted to a substance that harms themselves and their relationships with the people they care most about. The worst situation is when a divorce is caused by drugs or alcohol, and the parties have a child together.
If you are reading this blog because you or your spouse has a problem with drugs or alcohol, I can let you know that the addiction will not play a massive part in your divorce if you all don't have any children.
The majority of your divorce will be spent attempting to divide up your community estate. Unless the addiction has caused you or your spouse to drain community income to an alternative lifestyle, then the impact on your divorce case should be minimal. Indeed, if this wasting of community funds is present, whoever has the addiction will most likely lose some of the estates to the sober spouse.
By far, the most impact that drug or alcohol abuse can have on a divorce is when children are at issue. This is when the court, in its responsibility to act on behalf of what is in the best interests of your child, must make difficult decisions to do what your judge believes will keep your child safe from potential harm.
Your child's safety is the top priority of the judge in your divorce case.
Above all else, your judge will do whatever they can to ensure that your child is out of harm's way. The overarching theme of a judge acting in your child's best interest applies here as it does in any scenario involving your children in the context of your divorce.
With that being said, I have seen parents lose any right to have their child, at least for some time, if proven that they have abused drugs or alcohol. In a recent case here in Harris County, a client of ours tested positive for multiple illegal narcotics and was allowed only one afternoon visit with her son for almost two months until additional time was allowed by the judge.
What sort of special accommodations can happen in a situation like this? One that attorneys will warn their clients about from the outset if they suspect you of having a problem with drugs or alcohol is supervised visitation.
This means that a court-approved entity (a program that specializes in hosting supervised visits in most cases) will be appointed, and you or your spouse will have all contact with your child at one of these facilities. In addition to the emotional toll this can take on a person, the spouse with the addiction problem will have to pay the costs associated with hosting the visitation session.
When supervised visits occur, a judge will likely order you or your spouse into a program that will help you deal with your addictions head-on. Regular attendance will need to be shown to increase the supervised visits over time.
Once it is shown, in the opinion of your judge, that you or your spouse has managed to remain sober unsupervised visits may be ordered. However, a relapse into your former lifestyle will spell disaster for future attempts to gain more time with your child.
Preparing for a divorce in which substance abuse will be an issue
Suppose that your spouse is an abuser of drugs or alcohol, and you are beginning the process of hiring an attorney and filing for divorce. First and foremost, I would recommend that you show a court any evidence that you may have of this behavior of your spouse. Photos, videos, and social media account postings are all examples of evidence that I have seen clients collect to help prove allegations of this sort.
Law enforcement and CPS should be made aware of any dangerous behavior that your spouse has engaged in, significantly when that behavior has affected your child.
A former client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, had an unfortunate situation where her son was riding in the backseat of the family car as it was being driven by ourclient'ss husband who was intoxicated. Fortunately, no one was hurt during this drive, but our client's husband was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
Our client ended up contacting CPS to file a report against her spouse the morning after this arrest. The bottom line is that getting law enforcement and CPS, most importantly, can assist in keeping your child safe and creating records of your spouse's bad behavior.
Finally, requesting emergency orders that keep your child from being in a vehicle or even in the presence of your drug or alcohol abusing spouse can support your child out of harm's way in an immediate sense. Waiting a week or two for a temporary orders hearing is not an option when your child's life can be at stake.
Questions about the impact of drugs and alcohol on your divorce case? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
When your child's safety is at issue, you cannot take any shortcuts. Hiring an attorney with experience in this area can make a tremendous difference. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, represents parents across southeast Texas in divorce cases and would be honored to do the same for you. To learn more about our office, please contact us today. A free-of-charge consultation is available with one of our licensed family law attorneys six days a week.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- How to Co-Parent with an Addict Ex-Spouse
- Supervised Visitation in a Texas Divorce: Can it happen to me?
- Getting Drug Tested in a Texas Divorce
- What to Do When CPS Asks for a Drug Test in Texas
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Texas Child Visitation Modification
- 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
- Texas Parental Visitation – Texas Standard Possession Orders in Harris and Montgomery County, Texas – Part 1
- Texas Parental Relocation
- Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX, Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the 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 Houston, Texas, Cypress, 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.