The trap of alcoholism does not discriminate. Anyone of any age, race, gender or class may struggle with addiction to alcohol. While some find it possible to function for years while drinking, others may lose everything that is important to them, including their families.
If your spouse's addiction to alcohol played a role in your decision to leave the marriage, you likely made your choice based on seeking the best interests of your children and your own peace of mind. Difficult as it may be to leave your spouse, you have to think of a better, more stable future, especially for your children. Nevertheless, you are certain to have challenges ahead, and one major challenge will be dealing with the issue of parenting rights.
What is best for your children?
If you anticipate your spouse will fight for custody or visitation rights, you may want to explore your options with help from a Board-certified Family Law expert attorney and obtain as much information as possible about the laws in Collin County, Denton County, Dallas County, or elsewhere throughout Texas. More and more states, including Texas, embrace the presumption that parents should share “joint” custody, although in Texas joint custody does not currently equate to 50/50 possession. It may be up to you to convince the court that your spouse's alcohol addiction makes him or her unfit to share joint custody. Some evidence you present may include:
- Evidence of physical or verbal abuse of you or the children
- Examples of times when your spouse's drinking created an unstable or unsafe environment in the home
- Financial ramifications of your spouse's addiction
- Police reports or arrest records, including any DUI convictions or accident reports
- Your spouse's refusal to seek help for his or her addiction
- The testimony of your children if they are old enough to appreciate the gravity of the situation
- Evidence of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, or embarrassing drunken shenanigans, including photographs posted on social media.
When the presumption of joint custody conflicts with the best interests of your child, it is possible that the court will weigh these factors and limit your spouse's access to the kids. This may include ordering supervised visitation or requiring blood alcohol concentration tests, wearing or using alcohol-monitoring devices such as “Sober-Link” or breathalyzers connected to a vehicle’s ignition system, before your spouse may spend time with the children.
You may have to concede that, aside from the drinking, your spouse can provide a positive influence on the lives of your children, in which case encouraging contact may be important. On the other hand, if your spouse's access to your children genuinely places them in danger, you will want a strong and experienced legal advocate to present your case and argue for your cause.