Rehab, Recovery, And Divorce: Navigating The Intersection Of Addiction And Divorce

Woman contemplates marriage, divorce, and addiction while drinking wine.

Rehab, Recovery, And Divorce: Navigating The Intersection Of Addiction And Divorce

Addiction and divorce are two societal issues that often intertwine, leaving a profound impact not only on the individuals directly involved but also on their children. It’s a well-documented fact that children of divorced parents are more likely to experience divorce themselves. Similarly, they’re more prone to substance abuse compared to those from two-parent households. Moreover, addiction plays a significant role in many divorce cases, with spouses grappling with the tough decision of whether to include it as grounds for divorce. The process of divorcing an addict can be particularly challenging, requiring more than just survival – it demands a strategy for thriving amidst adversity. To learn more about addiction and divorce, book a consultation with a qualified family law attorney in Arizona. Call (480) 719-2558 to get started at the Sullivan Law Office. 


How Addiction Can Impact a Marriage


A marriage can suffer greatly when one spouse is grappling with addiction. Addiction often contributes to major marital problems, becoming a significant focal point that can steer a relationship toward disintegration. Typically, navigating through a divorce, where one partner is actively feeding their addiction, can be sequentially challenging. Addiction not only destroys the fabric of a marriage but also brings up complicated legal issues. 


Is Addiction Considered Grounds for Divorce?


In many areas, addiction in itself isn’t officially recognized as grounds for divorce. However, it can play a significant role in proving other grounds that are applicable under local law. Arizona is a no-fault state, which means that a spouse does not need to accuse the other of substance abuse in order to file for divorce. Evidence of addiction can be utilized to support divorce cases, therefore it still plays a critical role in dissolving the marriage even if it’s not a direct cause. 


When Divorcing an Addict Is the Best Option


Handling a split when a partner is still actively involved in substance abuse creates a uniquely challenging dynamic. Sometimes, after numerous failed rehab attempts or in situations where the spouse’s health or safety is at risk, dissolving the marriage may emerge as the last resort. A few situations where divorce might be the only feasible resolution include:


  • Erratic or Criminal Behavior:
    Addiction often triggers severe behavioral changes, easily escalating to illegal activities. Consistent involvement with the law can harm the other spouse’s mental, physical, or financial well-being.
  • Unsuccessful Rehab Attempts:
    Rehabilitation and recovery are key aspects of managing addiction. But if the spouse’s addictive habits persist despite multiple failed attempts at rehab, a separation becomes increasingly justifiable.
  • Cruel and Inhumane Treatment:
    There are times when addiction results in harsh, abusive treatment against the sober spouse. When this happens, filing for a fault-based divorce becomes necessary to secure the innocent party’s safety and legal rights.


Often, spouses suffer under the weight of their partner’s addiction for years before taking action. 


Understanding Child Custody in Substance Abuse Divorces


When it comes to divorces involving addiction, child custody takes on a dimension of heightened importance as the courts prioritize the child’s safety and well-being. Navigating through the unsteady waters of the legal system therefore becomes crucial. Addiction can dramatically impact the outcome of child custody battles, demonstrating just how paramount it is to understand the potential ramifications of substance abuse. Shockingly, according to the American Addiction Centers, one in eight American children has at least one parent with some form of substance abuse disorder (SUD). 


The struggling spouse’s behavior and lifestyle can adversely affect their chances in a custody dispute, especially if they have regularly engaged in dangerous or irresponsible activities while under the influence. An added layer of concern arises if the addicted spouse also exhibits abusive tendencies. In these unbearable situations, the other spouse must prioritize their safety, as well as the safety of their children. Understanding these aspects becomes pivotal in maneuvering the labyrinth of legal procedures related to addiction and divorce. It’s essential to consider partnering with experienced counsel, equipped to handle such challenging matters. 


Can an Addict Modify the Terms of a Divorce if They Seek Rehabilitation and Recovery? 


In Arizona, like in many jurisdictions, a person’s addiction and subsequent rehabilitation efforts can potentially impact certain aspects of a divorce, particularly concerning child custody, visitation rights, and spousal support. Here’s a general overview:


  • Child Custody and Visitation: If one parent struggles with addiction but seeks rehabilitation and demonstrates a commitment to recovery, the court may consider this positively when making decisions about child custody and visitation. The primary concern of the court is the best interests of the child. If the addicted parent can show significant progress in overcoming their addiction and providing a stable and safe environment for the child, the court may modify custody or visitation arrangements accordingly.


  • Spousal Support: In some cases, addiction issues may impact spousal support (also known as alimony) determinations. If the addicted spouse’s substance abuse significantly contributed to the breakdown of the marriage or their ability to maintain employment and support themselves, it could affect spousal support obligations. However, if the addicted spouse seeks rehabilitation and demonstrates efforts toward recovery, the court may take this into account when considering spousal support.


  • Modification of Divorce Decree: If a divorcing spouse successfully completes a rehabilitation program and maintains sobriety, they may petition the court to modify certain terms of the divorce decree, such as custody, visitation, or support arrangements. However, modification of court orders typically requires a substantial change in circumstances, and the court will consider various factors before granting a modification.


It’s important to note that each case is unique, and the court will evaluate the specific circumstances and evidence presented before making any decisions. Additionally, seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable family law attorney in Arizona is important for understanding your rights, navigating the legal process, and presenting a strong case for modification based on rehabilitation and recovery efforts.


Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Arizona


Each divorce is different, and addiction can affect the dissolution of marriage in many different ways. To receive targeted advice based on their unique situations, spouses should consider speaking directly with experienced family law attorneys in Arizona. Call (480) 719-2558 and visit with the compassionate and dedicated family law attorneys at the the Sullivan Law Office.