Abuse of drugs can be a bad thing in any relationship. When one partner is addicted to something, it can be hard to keep the trust and respect that are needed to keep a marriage together. These bad and maybe even dangerous conditions in the home can have a big effect on how things go before, during, and after the divorce.
Effects of drug use before a divorce
Abuse of drugs could change the reason you choose to file for divorce. Divorce in Kentucky can be called “fault” or “no-fault.” A no-fault divorce is based on the fact that the couple can’t get along and doesn’t require either person to say anything bad about the other.
On the other hand, a fault divorce needs specific claims and proof to back them up. It can be filed for many reasons, such as:
- Leaving without permission for 12+ months
- Extreme cruelty
- Separation for at least 18 months in a row with no reasonable chance of getting back together
- Voluntarily getting addicted to or used to any narcotic drug as defined by the Kentucky Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, or drinking too much for more than 12 months in a row.
- Institutionalized for mental illness for 24 months or more in a row
- 18 or more months in jail in a row
- Sexual behavior that was against the law that the defendant did on their own without the plaintiff’s permission.
Depending on when the divorce complaint is filed, you may still be able to file on fault grounds even if the spouse in question goes to rehab before the divorce complaint is filed. Talk to a family law attorney before you file
How Drug Abuse Affects The Settlement Of A Divorce
Substance abuse is often accompanied by other problems, like neglect, lying, domestic violence, emotional problems, and spending money without thinking about it. All of these things can and will affect how a divorce is settled and who gets custody.
When a partner has a history of drug abuse and lying that can be proven, it can hurt his or her credibility in the eyes of the court. When making a decision, a judge or mediator will also take into account the defendant’s personal situation and how they behaved during the divorce proceedings. However, if the defendant is known to be an addict, they may be less likely to give them the benefit of the doubt in the inevitable “he said, she said” moments of conflict.
A lot of drug and alcohol habits cost a lot of money to keep up, especially when the substances are illegal. The stress on a couple’s bank account can be a big part of how they settle their divorce. The court has to figure out if the person who is abusing drugs has wasted the couple’s assets. If they have, the court must decide how much the spouse who doesn’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol needs to be paid.
The state has to make decisions about child custody based on what is in the “best interest of the child.” Kentucky is one of the few states that doesn’t have a law that specifically talks about drug use as a factor in whether a parent is fit to be a parent. This doesn’t mean that it won’t be taken into account during custody hearings; it just means that the courts have more freedom to decide how custody will work.
When there is proof that one parent has a problem with drugs or alcohol, a judge or mediator may decide that the child’s welfare would be hurt by living with that parent and deny custody to that parent. Substance abuse can also hurt the rights of the parent who doesn’t have custody.
In Kentucky, parents who don’t have custody of their children have a constitutional right to spend time with them, unless their presence is seen as a direct threat to the child. Because of this, a court may decide that the abusive parent’s time with the child needs to be limited or supervised by a professional chosen by the court or a person chosen by the other parent.
The custody agreement may also say that the spouse with an addiction can’t use drugs or alcohol for a certain amount of time before seeing their kids or that they have to go to treatment before they can see their kids.
Impact Of Drug Abuse After A Divorce
The law is your divorce agreement. But it can be changed, just like any other law. Both parties have the right to ask for changes to their current arrangements for alimony, child support, and/or custody as their lives change. This includes things that happened with drug use and addiction. If a parent has a relapse, it can change the way custody and visitation are handled in a big way.
This is a very personal and complicated matter. Always talk to a family law attorney to make sure that your divorce agreement protects will keep you and your children safe and healthy.