Substance abuse issues by one or both spouses contribute to the end of many marriages. If you’re divorcing a spouse with an alcohol problem, you’re by no means alone. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less difficult – especially if you have children.
Your primary concern is making sure that your children are safe and healthy. That may mean you want to have sole custody and require supervision when your soon-to-be ex has access to them. If your co-parent doesn’t accept that they have a serious problem with alcohol, you’re likely going to face pushback.
A family court judge, whose primary consideration in custody cases is the children’s well-being, is not just going to accept your word that your spouse’s abuse of alcohol would endanger your children if allowed to care for them alone. If your spouse doesn’t acknowledge their problem, you’ll need evidence.
What types of evidence can help your case?
If your spouse has a history of arrests (particularly with convictions) for drunk driving, public intoxication or any kind of violence, that can be important evidence – especially if there were witnesses (besides you).
Even if a spouse’s DUIs have been reduced to reckless driving or other lesser charges, a history of traffic citations for speeding and other dangerous behavior can be enough to at least show that your children shouldn’t be allowed in a vehicle with them behind the wheel.
Sometimes, bank and credit card statements and other financial records can provide evidence. Regular purchases at bars, liquor stores and even grocery store receipts showing alcohol purchases may help provide evidence of your spouse’s alcohol consumption.
Emails, texts, voicemails and other communications can be important evidence of your spouse’s frame of mind when they’re intoxicated. You likely have a number of those. Your spouse’s friends and family may have them as well – although don’t count on those having been saved or on them wanting to share them with you.
Speaking of family and friends, the testimony of third parties who have witnessed your spouse’s excessive drinking and the resulting behavior can help make your case. That’s particularly true if they are people who are closer to your spouse than to you.
These are just a few examples of the kind of evidence you’ll be expected to provide if you need to limit your spouse’s parental access as you end your marriage. Certainly, each situation is highly unique. That’s just one reason to have experienced legal guidance.