Alcoholism affects marriage in so many ways and deciding to divorce a partner who has alcohol use disorder can feel emotionally draining, scary, and overwhelming. Keep in mind that the divorce and recovery process for you may take longer than anticipated and you must have a healthy self-care routine, as well as a strong support system in place before you begin this process.

Alcoholism and Divorce Facts

There are strong correlations between heavy alcohol use and divorce rates in the United States

  • Alcoholism is a commonly cited reason for divorce with drinking and drug use listed as one of the top three reasons for divorce.
  • About 48 percent of marriages end in separation or divorce if one partner has a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder.
  • Couples with either two heavy drinkers or two abstaining partners are much less likely to divorce.
  • Alcoholism can diminish relationships to the point where they can no longer be salvaged. It can turn someone from the spouse you once loved to a virtual stranger.

If you’re divorcing someone because of alcoholism or substance abuse problems, it may change the course of how the divorce proceeds and impact things like child custody.

How Does Alcoholism Affect Divorce?

Alcohol use disorder can impact the divorce proceedings in several ways such as:

  • Child custody (child custody evaluator may be appointed) and visitation restrictions may apply
  • If a restraining order is put in place due to previous abuse and/or property damage
  • A judge may order random alcohol testing, especially if children are involved
  • The judge may order alcohol treatment, especially if there are children involved
  • The family court may file an order of protection if your partner is volatile and at risk of harming you, the kids, damaging your property or draining your funds

How Do You Prove Alcoholism in Court?

When alcoholism is alleged in a divorce proceeding, it must also be proven. Evidence of alcoholism and its impact on the marriage can be introduced in many ways such as police & accident reports, rehabilitation bills, medical records, video, and any court orders in DUI cases. The best way you can prove alcoholism is by documenting as much as you possibly can and working with a lawyer who specializes in working with those who are divorcing a spouse with alcohol use disorder. Be sure to:

  • Have reports and letters from mutual friends and family submitted to the family court regarding your partner’s drinking and their subsequent behavior.
  • Have documented notes of when, where, and how much your partner drank and their subsequent behavior.
  • Take pictures of any property damage or injuries from abuse, as well as police reports noting these incidents.
  • Have clear examples and proof of any time you felt unsafe and how you protected yourself, your kids, your property, and your pets (stayed somewhere else, called the police, etc.).
  • Request the court drug test your partner to see if alcohol and/or other substances are present.

It’s for many of these reasons that it’s not uncommon for people to wonder whether they should leave. Divorcing an alcoholic spouse can be a challenging process to go through. On top of all the usual divorce-related challenges and complexities, there is the health of the alcoholic spouse to consider. Always contact a divorce attorney for better help navigating the process. They can work toward the best outcome for you and your family.

Hayley Lisa

The Divorce Coach for Men