HOW DRUG OR ALCOHOL ABUSE CAN IMPACT A MICHIGAN DIVORCE

Posted by Daryl Wizinsky on Sunday, November 18th, 2018 at 4:36pm.

When one or both parties to a divorce suffer from alcohol use disorder (the latest medical term for alcoholism) or drug addiction, the divorce process can become significantly more complicated.

For one thing, settlement discussions can be much more difficult. Long-term drug use or alcohol abuse can actually cause brain damage, reducing a person’s ability to think logically, make decisions, and control their behavior. There are emotional effects as well: an estimated 30-40 percent of alcoholics also suffer from some type of depression. Bottom line, it is likely to take longer to reach a settlement and get the divorce finalized when you or your spouse abuses drugs or alcohol.

From a strictly legal point of view, a spouse’s drug or alcohol use can impact decisions regarding the division of assets, spousal support, child custody, and parenting time.

Drug or Alcohol Abuse Does Not Affect the Granting of a Divorce

Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. One spouse simply needs to appear in court and tell a judge that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and the court will grant the divorce. The issue of drug or alcohol abuse is not a factor here.

Addiction Can Impact Asset Division

Michigan law calls for “an equitable distribution of property in light of all the circumstances.” A 50/50 split of marital assets is the general standard.

However, various Michigan Supreme Court rulings have made it clear that the family court may grant one spouse a greater share of the assets, as long as the court considers a specific list of factors, does not give disproportionate weight to any one factor, and documents the facts supporting the court’s decision.

These factors include the parties’ past conduct and relations, and the “fault” of one party in causing the divorce. Thus, one spouse’s drug or alcohol abuse could result in the other spouse being awarded a greater share of marital assets and/or spousal support payments.

Substance Abuse Can Impact Child Custody Decisions

If spouses cannot agree on a child custody and parenting time plan, the judge will make those decisions using Michigan’s “best interests of the child” factors. If a spouse with substance abuse issues has been neglectful or even violent towards the children, the other spouse could be awarded sole custody.

The court may require a spouse with a history of substance abuse to undergo drug/alcohol testing and some form of treatment prior to awarding parenting time to that individual. Supervised visitation may also be mandated by the court.

 

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