Ways That Your Spouse’s Substance Abuse Could Impact on Your Divorce

Substance Abuse Ball on a Man's BackOne common reason for divorces in Virginia is that one partner has a substance abuse problem. If you are considering filing for divorce and your spouse has an alcohol or drug dependency, here is what you need to know about how it could impact on issues in your divorce.

Is Substance Abuse Grounds for Divorce in Virginia?

In our Commonwealth, there are two types of divorces: uncontested divorces where the husband and wife agree to the divorce and at-fault divorces where specific grounds for divorce must be established. Substance abuse is not grounds for divorce in Virginia. However, it could help establish other grounds for divorce, such as:

  • Felony conviction
  • Cruelty and apprehension of bodily harm if the substance abuse leads to domestic violence
  • Desertion or constructive desertion where one spouse’s substance abuse makes living conditions so intolerable that the other spouse cannot continue to live in the marital home

How Substance Abuse Affects Property Settlements

In Virginia, marital property and debts are to be divided equitably, although this does not necessarily mean that everything will be split 50-50. Substance abuse often will not impact property settlements or the award of alimony. However, if the person with the substance abuse problem spent a significant amount of marital assets buying drugs or alcohol or incurred debts because of his addiction, this could affect how the judge’s decisions on property, debt division, and alimony.

How Addiction Can Affect Child Custody and Visitation

When deciding child custody and parenting time issues, the court must consider the best interests of the child. This is where a spouse’s substance abuse problem could have the biggest impact in a divorce. The judge would consider how the addiction would impact on the parent’s ability to have custody and care for the child. In addition, if the addiction problem is severe, the judge could also find that it is not safe for the child to have unsupervised visitation with this parent or limit unsupervised parenting time.

If your spouse has a substance abuse problem and you plan to file for divorce, you should discuss this issue with an experienced family law lawyer to learn how it could affect your divorce. Fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help.