Divorces often bring to light an underlying problem with alcohol or illegal drugs for one or the other spouse. Whether or not it is the main reason for the split, the issue impacts divorce in many ways, particularly in the areas of child custody, visitation and property division.
Impact on Child Custody and Visitation
A parent’s illegal drug use or alcohol addiction will impact child custody and visitation (referred to in Texas as “possession.”) The court may limit the amount of time the addicted parent has with the child or even order those visits with the child must be supervised.
In crafting an order regarding possession, the court will consider:
- Has the parent admitted he or she has a problem?
- Is the parent getting any treatment for the drug or alcohol problem?
- Is the party going to any recovery group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA)?
- Is the addicted parent now clean and sober and if so, how long?
The court may order random drug or alcohol testing. The court may also order the parent to use a device such as Smart Start, which can be carried around and used to take a random breath analysis to detect a person’s blood alcohol count (BAC). The device takes a photo of the person to confirm they are the one who is actually taking the test. Any positive test results or device tampering are reported to the attorneys/parties involved.
If the court orders supervised visits only, the order will likely only be temporary until the parent can show he or she is making strides toward recovery. At that time, the party can ask the court for a modification of the possession and access order, whether temporary or final.
Impact on Property Division
Since Texas is a community property state, all assets acquired by the couple during their marriage are community and will be divided between them when they divorce.
If one person has wasted assets by buying illegal drugs, or by binging on alcohol, the court may account for that in the division of property and offset the amount that was wasted. The court may deduct that amount from the at-fault spouse’s share of the community property in order to provide an offset to the other party.
Additionally, the court can consider other ways the addicted spouse has been frivolous with the community assets such as repeated unsuccessful rehabs, gambling, spending on paramours, etc. that often occur when one spouse is in the middle of their addiction.
For More Information About Divorce Contact an Experienced Dallas Family Law Attorney.