Certain personal issues can make a divorce both more necessary and more difficult to achieve. For example, if your spouse has a history of abusing alcohol, their substance abuse may play a role in your decision to file for divorce. It could also make you nervous about sharing custody with them.
After all, alcohol affects people’s mood and their ability to safely parent their children. You might worry that leaving your children alone with your ex will inevitably mean that they neglect your children or become violent and abusive toward them.
Thankfully, if you are considering a divorce from a spouse who is a problem drinker, there are a couple of simple steps that you can take to help prepare yourself for that process.
Gather supporting documentation
If you ask for sole custody without a justification for doing so, it could actually hurt your custody case. Judges don’t like to see parents intentionally cutting each other out of the children’s lives. You don’t want your claims of substance abuse to become a he-said-she-said scenario.
Medical records of hospitalization, photographs of property damage or injuries suffered during a drunken rage, and even financial records showing how much your ex spends on alcohol at the store or at local bars could help you show the court that there is a real reason for you to ask for sole custody.
Try to encourage your ex to seek treatment
While divorce will mean that you can sever the relationship with your spouse, you will always share children. Your kids may want a relationship with both of their parents, and your ex can make that relationship healthier for everyone by seeking treatment now. Reaching out to encourage them to get into treatment could help them be a better parent later.
It could also give them a reason to consider agreeing to full custody. You could negotiate an agreement out of court where you will promise to cooperate in an uncontested modification provided that they complete treatment and achieve a specific number of months sober. The shock of divorce and the threat to their relationship with the children could be enough to push them into getting the treatment that they need.
Filing for divorce after marriage to an alcoholic isn’t easy, but you can potentially protect your children as you negotiate or litigate custody arrangements.