Alcohol can ruin even the most loving relationships. If someone close to us starts to develop an alcohol problem, it can be hard to know when it’s time to leave. We’ve spent so much time with this person that divorcing an alcoholic may become a very difficult decision. This is especially true when children are involved.
But, the truth is, if you take a step back and look at the situation you’ll realize that you’re putting yourself and your children in more danger by staying. People who develop an addiction to alcohol can experience mood swings, resort to violence, and become unpredictable. That’s why if you’re thinking about divorcing an alcoholic, it may seem like you have nowhere to turn.
What Are the Facts?
It’s important to know the facts when it comes to alcoholism and divorce. There is a strong, evident relationship between divorce and alcoholism in the United States. Interestingly enough, if couples only contain one heavy drinker, they are more likely to divorce. If both people involved are heavy drinkers, or both people don’t drink, the couple is more likely to stay together.
The reason alcohol is instrumental in so many divorces nationwide is that alcohol can change people. The person you fell in love with can turn into a person you barely know due to their drinking. The partner that’s consuming the alcohol can also begin to erode the relationship in other ways.
People with substance abuse problems tend to be embarrassed. They may mask it as frustration or “not wanting their husband/wife to find out” but this stems from a deeply-rooted feeling of embarrassment. As a result, people with alcohol abuse issues tend to tell lies.
A person abusing alcohol will feel like they have to lie about where they’ve been, who they’ve been hanging out with, and what they’ve been doing. Eventually, they tell so many lies that it starts to wear them and their partner down.
Alcoholics also tend to become more selfish. They end up constantly worrying about when and where they’re getting their next drink that it can be difficult for them to focus on anything else. This includes their relationship or their spouse.
The Legal Side of Divorcing An Alcoholic
When a couple goes through a divorce, their attorney will have to cite a legal reason for the separation. If someone is divorcing an alcoholic, they’ll need to discuss with their attorney whether or not they can use alcoholism as an official reason.
Every state is different, so whether or not you can use alcoholism as legal grounds for divorce is going to depend a lot on your location. Here is a quick rundown of what you can expect if you move forward with the proceedings.
The Type of Divorce
There are two types of divorce a couple can file. They can choose to file either a no-fault or at-fault divorce. No-fault divorces are acceptable in all states now. This means the couple cites “irreconcilable differences” as the reason they no longer want to stay married.
In this case, no spouse needs to file a specific reason why the divorce is occurring. Therefore, the course doesn’t pass judgement on either spouse. This is the case even if alcoholism is a factor.
Some states choose to be no-fault jurisdictions entirely. This means that the only type of divorce you can file for in those states is a no-fault divorce.
There are 17 states that are no-fault jurisdictions. Those states are:
- District of Columbia
At-Fault States for Divorcing An Alcoholic
The remaining 33 states can choose between no-fault or at-fault divorce. Certain states have specific laws that allow a spouse to use substance abuse as legal grounds when divorcing an alcoholic. Oklahoma, Ohio, and Arkansas all have specific laws on the books allowing spouses to cite alcoholism or drunkenness as the reason for the divorce.
In Arkansas, however, the partner would need to prove drunkenness for a year or more to use it as grounds for the divorce. That’s why it’s important if you and your spouse are looking to file for divorce, to see what the specific laws are in your state.
Each state may use different wording to define what constitutes actual legal grounds. And, it may be even trickier in a state that allows both no-fault and at-fault divorce proceedings. It’s important to talk with an attorney or mediator to help navigate your State’s local laws.
Can You Prove Alcoholism In Court?
If you are in an at-fault state, and choose to cite alcoholism as the reason for leaving your spouse, it’s going to change the way the divorce proceedings move forward. Someone wanting to prove alcoholism is going to need to provide evidence in divorce court. That’s something that can always get messy.
There are several different ways a partner can introduce evidence in court when divorcing an alcoholic. It’s something that needs to be discussed with an attorney but a direct testimony is one popular form of evidence. This would mean that someone, either a friend or other loved one, would come forward and attest to the fact that one partner was abusing the other. It’s important to note that whoever came forward to testify would have to have witnessed the abuse with their own eyes.
Another form of evidence would be police reports. These might even be better than a direct testimony. The reason is that police reports are a form of official paperwork from an uninterested third party. A direct testimony might be called into question. The judge might consider it a case of “he said, she said”. There is none of that same personal bias with a police report.
Get Help Before It’s Too Late
It’s always unfortunate when a relationship ends and it could’ve been avoided. Divorcing an alcoholic is necessary in a lot of cases. There may be instances of abuse or domestic violence. In that case, someone needs to leave as quickly as they possibly can.
But, in other cases, divorcing an alcoholic may not be necessary. The relationship could be salvageable if the person seeks substance abuse counseling.
Just Believe Recovery is here to help. If you or a loved one need are looking into substance abuse counseling, contact us today. We are more than happy to help and are here to see you get your relationship back on the right track.