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Divorcing a spouse with an addiction

You may be among the many families in Texas and across the country who have suffered because of a loved one's substance abuse. In fact, more than 24 million people struggle with addiction in the U.S., and it takes its toll on families in many ways.

If your spouse has an addiction to alcohol, opioids or another substance, you may be doing your best to keep your family together. However, like many spouses in your circumstances, you may be exhausted with the weight of the burden you carry. You alone may be responsible for maintaining the home, earning the money, paying the bills and caring for the children, all while you worry about your loved one's health. Perhaps you have reached a critical decision about your marriage.

The damage addiction can do

Your spouse is not the person you married. If drugs or alcohol controls the person you love, you may have a hard time remembering the good times you shared. Nevertheless, your own well-being and the safety of your children may be at risk. As much as you feel compelled to stay in the marriage for better or worse, you know you can't do so without jeopardizing yourself and your kids.

A person who is in the grip of addiction may place you in danger. Often, substance abuse causes people to make unwise decisions to satisfy the craving for the drug of choice. This may include placing the family in financial crisis, endangering your safety with reckless behavior, exposing you and the children to desperate people, or resorting to criminal activity. If your instinct is to protect your partner, you may end up in a very bad situation.

Taking the first steps

One factor that may cause you to hesitate filing for divorce is the fear that you are a stabilizing force in your spouse's life, and that if you leave, he or she will spiral deeper into the addiction. Therefore, you may want to try any of these steps first:

  • Seek family counseling.
  • Find a strong support group, such as Al-Anon or Family Anon.
  • Urge your spouse to enter a treatment program run by licensed professionals.

If these efforts bring no success, filing for divorce may be the only way you can protect yourself and your children. Nevertheless, deciding to divorce someone with a substance abuse problem means taking special care to protect your rights, your fair share of marital assets and the custody of your children. For help with these and other critical issues, you may want to consult with an experienced Board-Certified Family Law expert attorney in Collin County, Dallas County or Denton County, or elsewhere throughout Texas. 

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