Excessive consumption of alcohol can be a real cause for concern and as family lawyers in Guildford, we are experiencing many cases where it has become such a concern that it can lead to divorce. If alcoholism is an aspect of the divorce it can play a part in how the proceedings are dealt with. This is an area that will need full investigation, especially if your case involves young children as the courts will take a very dim view of a false accusation, where one party will claim the other is an alcoholic purely for point scoring or mis-guided revenge. Any allegation of substance misuse is taken incredibly seriously and as such any claim will need to be fully proven before a resolution or judgement can be made. The courts will exercise caution when awarding any type of custody or contact arrangement, especially if there is a history of substance abuse, or evidence of such, or a criminal record.
A temporary arrangement may well be put in place whilst the facts are ascertained, prior to a long term arrangement being made. For instance, when there are accusations of domestic abuse in addition to the substance abuse, then an order prohibiting contact between one partner and the children and/or the other partner may be granted. Whilst it is not the law that a parent who drinks cannot see their child, it is generally accepted that a parent should be adequately able to ensure they can care for the child safely. Steps can be put in place to ensure that a parent unable to care adequately for their child, due to intoxication, should not be entrusted with their care. There are some judges who may ask for proof of non-consumption by use of the disposable machines widely available now.
Proving substance abuse can be done in several ways. If you have been considering divorce for a while then there may be documentation available, i.e. photos, videos etc. that can be submitted. You may also have evidence from a doctor, or you can obtain written statements from friends and family. This can also prove tricky, as with any substance abuse it can often have been a family secret that has not been openly discussed. Often the non-alcoholic partner will have been covering up for their partner for many years, hiding the true extent of the problem, if even acknowledging there is a problem at all.
Some people suffering with substance abuse of any type, can be extremely clever at concealing their problems and are still able to function at a decent level They may have developed some clever ways to cover their addiction and/or behaviour. You can request drug testing to gather proof of the abuse if it is suspected.
Another issue that will need addressing is their spending on their addiction. Many people suffering from an addiction will go to great lengths to hide the amount of money they are spending on it and may have accumulated quite substantial debts surrounding it. They may have loans or credit cards that their partner was not aware of, or they may have been openly spending from joint accounts and this will all be factored into your case on an individual basis. Sometimes the spending will increase post-separation, but it will need to be investigated as it could have an impact on your case.
As family lawyers in Guildford, we are aware that you may experience feelings of guilt throughout a case involving substance abuse, as the person suffering from it may have lost all control over their addiction and be completely unwilling to want to change their behaviour. It can be incredibly challenging to attempt to communicate with them rationally, regarding a divorce etc. whilst they continue to deny they have a problem.
Many divorces where alcoholism, or any substance abuse, is tied in can come up upon the problem of contact with their children. Often the non-alcoholic parent will have concerns about the other parent spending time with their child and their ability to ensure the child’s safety during the visit. This is especially the case with younger children who require more supervision. This can also prove difficult in a situation where the parent denies or refuses to accept that they have a problem. There is no straight-forward answer with these cases and each one will be looked at and dealt with individually. Some of the outcomes could be supervised access, either at a contact centre or a trusted relatives home, daytime visits only etc. at least until it can be proven that alcohol, or other substance, is not used around the children,
As experienced Family lawyers in Guildford we see many cases of this type, it is more common than you would think. We appreciate that these cases require a certain sensitivity and we are happy to help you through your situation using our unique processes. We have many years’ experience in family law and also have the necessary expertise to help you with advice throughout.
Contact Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors
Based in Guildford, Surrey, Cobham and Central London, we can help you. If you have a family dispute that needs resolving we are here to help and look forward to your call. Please contact us on 01483 826 470