Maybe your spouse already had a substance abuse problem when you got married, but you believed they would seek treatment or keep things under control. Perhaps they successfully hid their addiction from you until after you already had children together.
Living with an addict can be an exasperating experience. They can be unreliable as a partner and parent, possibly disappearing to go on a bender or failing to remember basic obligations, like picking the children up from school. They could also spend household income on their worst habits or lose their job because of their addiction.
If you decide to divorce someone whose substance abuse has negatively affected the entire family, you will want to protect your children from the risks of shared custody.
Document the addiction issue before you go to court
Generally, the family courts in Arizona try to keep both parents as involved as possible. Unfortunately, parents struggling with addiction may not be able to safely provide for their children. Even more concerning, they could neglect the children if they get drunk or high with the kids in their custody.
The more proof you have about the addiction and how it affects your ex’s parenting, the better the chance that the courts will limit your ex’s time with the children to protect them.
Have clear standards in place regarding behavior during parenting time
When your ex is an addict, your parenting plan may need to include provisions about sobriety or even drug testing. Your ex might agree to routine testing so that they can see the kids. Having a rule about sobriety can also make it easier for you to intervene if your children calls you late one night tell you that your ex is unconscious because they drank too much.
Make sure the children understand that they can ask for help
Letting your kids know that your ex should never drive a car after drinking or taking pain medication could save their lives. Your children should understand that they have the right to expect a parent who is present, conscious and sober during their parenting time. Teaching them to reach out for help when the situation seems dangerous could help you intervene before things get out of control.
Divorcing an addict can lead to a high-conflict divorce, but a careful approach can help you comply with court orders while also protecting your children.