Sometimes addiction doesn’t start until well into a marriage. Other times people didn’t know they were marrying an addict. However, addiction, no matter what form it comes in, is destructive. When married, an addict doesn’t suffer alone. No matter how in check or secretive they try to keep their behavior, it can destroy their life and the life of their spouse. Often, the only course of action for a couple when treatment doesn’t work is divorce. However, for spouses divorcing addicts, there are two potential issues that they will need to keep in mind – violence and theft.
The Actions of Addiction Affecting a Divorce
An addict isn’t always violent or guilty of theft, but a divorce in conjunction with their substance abuse can cause addicts to act in unpredictable ways. Often a divorce will come because their addiction has already wrecked havoc on your marital finances or their behavior makes you fearful of staying in a relationship with them. The stress of the process may only amplify these behaviors.
Substance abuse makes many act more aggressive than they normally would. When they find out that you want to leave them, this could very well be their tipping point and could result in a domestic violence situation. If their actions have made you fear for your safety or the safety of your children in the past, alongside your divorce papers, you should strongly consider getting an order of protection. While a simple piece of paper telling them to stay away may mean little to an addict, especially when their rationality is compromised under the influence, it does allow you to protect yourself. Even if they are not acting violently, all you need to do is call the police and they will be arrested for violating the order.
Furthermore, when the divorce is proceeding you need to take steps to protect what is left of your marital finances. Often when an addict’s way of life is threatened, they start to think about where, when, and how they will get their next fix. This could mean emptying out bank accounts and hiding finances. Even before filing for a divorce, it may be prudent to make copies of all financial statements just to make sure that money does not mysteriously disappear the day after they are served papers.
Divorcing an Addict
It is important that when divorcing an addict, you bring up their addiction early on in the process. If you fail to mention it to maintain their dignity and mention it later, it will hurt your own credibility. Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state which means there need not be a reason for a divorce. However, failing to mention a substance abuse problem early could result in issues down the line, particularly when it comes to gaining custody of any children.
While substance abuse doesn’t affect the division of assets, it can affect how the courts sees your addicted spouse. This could cause some biased in your favor, but in most cases, having substance abuse as the reason for your divorce is only an important aspect when it comes to divorcing with children. However, by knowing that your finances could be stolen or you could be threatened with violence, you can take steps early in the process to protect yourself.
If you are considering a divorce and your spouse has shown even mild signs of substance abuse or addiction, contact us today. It is best to talk with a divorce attorney early in the process so you can know what to expect, and what you can do to protect yourself during the process. Let the family law experience at Beckman Steen & Lungstrom work in your favor.