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Six Tips for Divorcing a Spouse With an Addiction in Illinois

Posted on in Divorce

Kane County divorce attorneysPeople often say that a marriage is hard work. Once the “honeymoon” phase is over, being married can be challenging for various reasons. Even if two spouses love each other, life circumstances can get in the way of living happily ever after. For example, a job loss or the death of a loved one can cause one partner to turn to alcohol or drugs as a remedy. In other cases, someone may become addicted to shopping, gambling, or pornography as a way of coping with stress. Regardless of the root cause of an addiction, this type of behavior can destroy a marriage and ultimately lead to divorce. If you are thinking about divorcing your spouse who has an addiction problem, it is important to know how to protect yourself emotionally and financially.  

Irreconcilable Differences

In Illinois, the only recognized “grounds” or reason for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” This means the marriage has deteriorated without hope for reconciliation. Therefore, abusing drugs or alcohol cannot be the official reason to file for divorce, but it can definitely contribute to the breakdown of a relationship. When a couple has children together, addiction can put a significant strain on the family. In some cases, alcoholism can lead to physical or verbal abuse. Attempts at rehab or therapy may have failed to resolve the problem. A parent may feel he or she has no choice but to leave the marriage in order to protect him or herself as well as his or her child’s best interests. Even though it is not a legal prerequisite, if a couple has been separated for at least six months, that typically proves they have irreconcilable differences.

Protecting Yourself

Once you have decided to leave your addicted partner, there are a few things you can do to help prepare for the divorce process. In many divorce cases involving an addict, the two spouses do not agree on how to divide marital property or assets. For these situations, the court will consider many factors to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time. Overnight stays may not be granted, or a judge can order supervised visitation for the parent who has a substance abuse problem.

An addiction can have detrimental effects on the entire family, so it is important to gather documentation as evidence to support your case, especially when asserting your parental rights. Here are a few practical ways you can protect yourself:

  1. Save incoherent or berating text, voice, or email messages that you received from your addicted spouse.
  2. Take photos of any damaged property from drunk driving or drug-induced incidents.
  3. Keep receipts of items purchased for the addiction, such as alcohol or extravagant gifts. 
  4. Talk to witnesses who may have seen or participated in the addiction.  
  5. Seek counseling or therapy to learn coping mechanisms for dealing with a family member who has an addiction. 
  6. File for an order of protection if you feel like you or your child is in danger. This can also apply to financial restraining orders to protect your assets.  

Leaving an addict not only takes courage but it also requires careful planning. The more prepared you are, the less contentious it will be. If it is proven that it is not in your child’s best interests to spend time with his or her other parent, then you will likely be awarded the majority of the parental responsibility. This may also include staying in the marital home since your kids will likely crave some form of consistency. 

Contact a Barrington Divorce Lawyer

It may be intimidating to consider divorcing a spouse with a substance abuse problem or another addiction, such as gambling or pornography. However, if you are concerned about your safety or your child’s, it is time to speak to a qualified legal team. If you are worried about how to initiate the process, the Law Offices of Benedict Schwarz, II PC can help you throughout the proceedings. We have extensive experience in handling many types of divorce cases, including complex or highly contentious ones. Our dedicated Geneva asset division attorney will advise you on your rights to marital property and parenting time. To schedule an initial consultation, call us today at 630-200-4882.





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