What Does It Take to Divorce an Alcoholic?

Updated July 24, 2023
6 min read
What Does It Take To Divorce an Alcoholic; pen, paper titled "Divorce Settlement Agreement", stamp, rings, bottles, glass


An alcoholic husband can significantly affect any marriage, with the burden frequently leading to wives contemplating divorce. When you decide to divorce an alcoholic, you confront a multitude of complexities, both emotional and legal. Nevertheless, divorcing an alcoholic can be a sign of self-care, paving the way to a potentially healthier future for you and any children involved.

Understanding Alcoholism

Before you decide to divorce an alcoholic, it's worth understanding the disease, alcoholism. Alcoholism, a type of substance addiction, commonly impacts individuals' actions and behaviors, which can inherently affect marital stability. The detrimental effect on the mental health and well-being of spouses often compels them to divorce an alcoholic, but this is treaded territory with specific legal considerations.

How To Divorce an Alcoholic

Undertaking the significant step of divorcing an alcoholic involves considering some legal procedures. Here are the steps you might expect when you divorce an alcoholic:

1. Hiring a lawyer: Engage with a competent divorce lawyer near you, specializing in family law to guide you through the process. 

2. Gather evidence: Proving your spouse's alcoholism in Court is one of the most crucial steps when you decide to divorce an alcoholic. This step necessitates the collection of compelling evidence. A Judge will usually consider whether your spouse’s drinking habits negatively impact the marriage, their relationship with any children, and their ability to function normally or maintain a job.

To fortify your claim, you should seek multiple forms of evidence:

  1. Medical records: Medical documentation indicating your spouse's alcohol-related diagnoses or treatments can be potent proof. These might include hospital records, treatment programs, or rehabilitation admission details. Medication prescriptions relating to alcohol dependency may also be considered.

  2. DUI charges or convictions: Any records of your spouse's run-ins with the law, specifically involving alcohol, can be critical. DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charges, arrests, or convictions demonstrate tangible evidence of a problematic alcohol issue and can significantly support your case, especially in determining child custody.

  3. Witnesses: Personal testimonies from family members, friends, coworkers, or neighbors can also substantiate alcohol abuse claims. Those who've directly witnessed the spouse's excessive drinking or behavior under influence could be called upon to provide their account.

  4. Photographic or video evidence: Additionally, photographs or videos capturing the spouse's abusive behavior or excessive drinking can be persuasive. Be cautious, however, to procure this evidence legally and without infringing on the spouse's privacy rights.

  5. Financial records: Showing how finances were negatively impacted by your spouse's addiction can also be very compelling. Financial records displaying unusual or frequent expenses on alcohol or alcohol-related instances can exhibit the economic toll of their alcoholism.

Each court case is unique, and not all evidence types might be pertinent in your situation. It's essential to liaise with your lawyer about what evidence to collect when making a case to divorce an alcoholic. Your attorney can advise on the most strategic approach to adduce evidence in your particular circumstances.

3. File for divorce: The next crucial step to divorce an alcoholic is filing a divorce petition in the court. This action essentially sets the divorce proceedings into motion. Parallelly, you'll be required to prepare a divorce settlement agreement. This integral legal document outlines the terms of your divorce, including provisions for asset division, child custody, child visitation rights, spousal support, and other pertinent aspects.

The divorce settlement agreement serves several overarching intentions. Firstly, by clearly stipulating agreed-upon divorce terms, it eliminates future misunderstandings or disputes. Secondly, it expedites the divorce process: courts often just need to approve the agreement rather than make determinations on every point. Thirdly, it provides a comprehensive legal record, ensuring both parties stick to the mandated terms.

Preparing such an agreement when you divorce an alcoholic may seem demanding initially, given the extensive scope and potential legal jargon. That's where employing a divorce settlement agreement template could immensely simplify the process. A divorce settlement agreement template helps guide you through this critical stage, ensuring you cover all required sections.

Remember, whether you are using a template or not, it is still advisable to have your lawyer review the final draft of your divorce settlement agreement when divorcing an alcoholic. This step guarantees that the agreement is fair and aligns with your legal rights and interests, something especially crucial when you divorce an alcoholic.

4. Negotiation and court hearing: You will negotiate terms with your estranged spouse, or the court renders a decision about property division, child custody, and alimony arrangements when you divorce an alcoholic.

5. Finalizing divorce: The court grants the divorce decree, thus finalizing your decision to divorce an alcoholic.

For around-the-clock support, you can check out other family-related templates that provide useful advice throughout your journey.

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Choosing to divorce an alcoholic is a considerable step, loaded with emotional challenges and legal hurdles. The unique circumstances arising when you're divorcing an alcoholic might seem overwhelming initially, but remember, you are doing this to protect your well-being and possible future happiness. 

Continue to explore Lawrina for more guidance on this journey of divorcing an alcoholic. Your resilience and determination to break free from the shackles of a problematic marriage can be crucial factors for a happier tomorrow.

Article by
Yevheniia Savchenko

Yevheniia Savchenko is a Product Content Manager at Lawrina. Yevheniia creates user interface copies for Lawrina products, writes release notes, and helps customers get the best user experience from all Lawrina products. Also, Yevheniia is in charge of creating helpful content on legal template pages (Lawrina Templates) and up-to-date information on US law (Lawrina Guides). In her spare time, Yevheniia takes up swimming, travels, and goes for a walk in her home city.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the product or UX content for Lawrina, feel free to contact Yevheniia directly at y.savchenko@lawrina.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Frequently Asked Questions

What considerations should I make before deciding to divorce an alcoholic?

Before deciding to divorce an alcoholic, you need to consider various factors. Firstly, understand that alcoholism is a disease and that recovery is possible with proper treatment. However, if you see your spouse unwilling to get help or if their addiction is causing harm, a decision to separate may be necessary. You also need to consider your safety and the safety of any children involved. Assess the financial implications, given that alcoholism can lead to financial instability. Finally, prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the process, as divorcing an alcoholic can be legally complex and emotionally draining.

How does alcoholism impact child custody during a divorce?

Courts always prioritize the best interests of the child during any divorce proceeding. If a parent is an alcoholic, it can significantly impact child custody decisions. The court may see a parent's alcoholism as a risk to the child's safety and well-being. Therefore, the sober parent may be more likely to gain primary or even exclusive custody. However, it would be important to provide proof of the spouse's alcoholism and its potential negative impact on the child. The alcoholic parent might still have visitation rights, but they could be supervised to ensure the child's safety.

What type of evidence is considered when trying to prove my spouse's alcoholism in court?

Gathering evidence of your spouse's alcoholism is crucial in divorce proceedings. Here are some types of evidence generally considered:

  • Medical documentation;
  • Legal records;
  • Financial records; 
  • Photographic and video evidence; 
  • Witness statements
  • Self-admission.

Remember to consult with an attorney to understand what type of evidence would be the most effective in your situation and how best to collect it legally and ethically.