Divorcing an addict is incredibly difficult. You may be struggling with guilt, confusion or even remorse after you make the decision to leave – but it’s your decision alone, and hopefully, you trust yourself enough to know that you made the right choice.
When you divorce an addict, you have to plan, prepare and muster your courage. It’s not an easy road, but in many cases, it’s an easier path to take than staying with an addict would be.
Divorcing an Addict: What You Need to Know
While many professionals can explain that there’s a spectrum of addiction, with some people being on both ends (functional and dysfunctional, but not in the way you’re probably thinking), you have to make the right decisions for yourself – and your kids, if you have them.
The ends of the addiction spectrum – functional and dysfunctional – are simply ways to measure how much harm the addict is doing to your family, other than just to him- or her-self.
Functional addicts can typically hold down a job, make a decent wage, and usually present themselves as normal, functioning members of society. Sometimes functional addicts binge-use drugs or alcohol, and often, they build up a tolerance so it’s tough to tell if they’re under the influence.
Dysfunctional addicts are generally the opposite of functional addicts. They may struggle to hold a job, have criminal records related to drugs or alcohol, or have a history of going to (and dropping out of) rehab programs. Some dysfunctional addicts are so caught up in drug or alcohol use that they’re at risk of dying every day; usually, their addiction is long-term. These addicts can be a danger to everyone around them, as well.
Divorcing an Addict: You Need Legal Counsel
For most people who are divorcing an addict, talking to a lawyer is an essential first step. Your attorney can help you determine how to proceed with a divorce, and she can tell you what kind of evidence you’ll need to gather in order to keep your children safe when it comes to child custody.
Divorcing an Addict: Be Ready to Follow Through
Unfortunately, many people threaten divorce thinking that it will make their spouse “come around” and quit using drugs or alcohol. Usually, it doesn’t work. An alcoholic or drug addict is suffering from a disease, so his or her refusal to get help and turn things around isn’t an indicator of how much they love their spouse – it’s just the way addiction works.
Divorcing an Addict: You May Feel Guilty
You, like many people, may feel like you’re abandoning your spouse in his or her worst moments. But the reality is that there is only so much you can do – and you have to keep yourself and your children safe. You cannot force an addict to get help or get clean. However, you can protect your family by leaving a toxic situation. Remember, too, that kids learn how to behave from their parents – and you don’t want your children to learn these behaviors or be even more at-risk for addiction.
Divorcing an Addict: Protect Your Assets
Unfortunately, it’s fairly common for an addict to spend all of his or her family’s money on the addiction. While you should never drain a joint bank account (doing so could get you into legal trouble), you should talk to your attorney about how you can protect your assets. If you don’t already have a separate bank account and your own credit cards, now is the time to establish them. You may need to remove your spouse as an authorized user on your credit cards, as well.
Are You Considering Divorcing an Addict?
If you’re thinking about divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, we may be able to help you.
Call us right away at (209) 546-6870 or get in touch with a Stockton divorce attorney online to schedule a consultation today.