Addiction or Alcohol Abuse as a Reason for Divorce

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Can Addiction or Alcohol Abuse Lead to Divorce?

Addiction to alcohol and other substances is a serious issue. There is a recognized and concerning correlation between addiction and domestic violence, and in an effort to give the non-addict spouse the ability to escape a potentially dangerous situation, courts in most states, if not all, will recognize addiction as valid grounds for divorce.

When Is Addiction Grounds for Divorce?

In every state, parties can divorce regardless of the "fault" of the other party. In these instances, it may be possible to get a "no-fault" divorce, and be done with the situation. To obtain a no-fault divorce, a spouse must simply state one of the recognized reasons for divorce. In states like California, where only no-fault divorce is accepted, it must simply be stated the couple has "irreconcilable differences." This would almost certainly encompass addiction of any sort.

In other states, the addict must have had the addiction for over a specific period of time. For example, Illinois requires the addict to have had the addiction for two years. Similarly, Alabama requires the addiction to have formed after the marriage for it to be recognized as a reason for divorce. Others, such as Massachusetts, require the addiction or substance abuse to be "fairly frequent," or some other more flexible standard.

Will Other Addictions Qualify as Grounds for Divorce?

It will ultimately depend on the laws of the state, but possibly. Many states have a standard similar to California’s irreconcilable differences. These standards are meant to facilitate couples who wish to divorce simply because they no longer get along, which an addiction of any sort may certainly cause. Thus, an addiction to gambling or pornography may also be valid reasons to file for divorce.

Should I Seek Legal Advice?

Divorce can be a stressful and emotionally taxing time, which may only be made worse when a severe addiction is the catalyst. If you are having trouble in your marriage due to your spouse’s addiction, speaking to a family law attorney immediately can help you navigate the situation as easily as possible. A divorce lawyer will be able to explain your options, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you in the event your spouse wants to contest the divorce.

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Last Modified: 07-24-2014 03:52 PM PDT

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