Sadly, drug and alcohol addiction is often a factor in divorce cases. If you are considering filing for divorce as a result of a spouse’s substance abuse, you might be wondering if you can include addiction as grounds for divorce.
Is Substance Abuse Grounds for Divorce?
In Virginia, there are two types of divorce—contested and uncontested. In the case of an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree to the dissolution of marriage and ties are easily severed. However, in the case of a contested divorce, specific grounds must be established and both sides must come in prepared to make their case.
In Virginia, substance abuse is not considered grounds for divorce. However, it can be relevant in proving other grounds for divorce that are applicable under Virginia law. These include:
- Felony conviction
- Domestic violence
- Intolerable living conditions due to the addicted spouse deserting the home
If these grounds can be proven with the help of evidence of substance abuse, then substance abuse will still play a role in dissolving the marriage even if it is not recognized as an official cause.
How Substance Abuse May Impact Divorce Terms
Even if substance abuse is not official grounds for divorce, it can most certainly impact certain terms of your divorce—namely property settlement and child custody.
Under Virginia law, marital property is to be divided equitably, including any debt. However, this does not mean a 50-50 split is required. If it can be proven an addict spent a significant amount of money purchasing drugs or alcohol, it could change the judge’s decision in regards to property, alimony, and debt division. The addicted spouse could end up being responsible for more debt than the spouse filing for divorce.
Family court always tries to keep the best interests of the child in mind when it comes to a divorce settlement. This is why evidence of a substance abuse problem can impact child custody arrangements. A judge may order supervised visits or not allow custody of the child at all to the addicted spouse. There may be other ground rules established, including partial custody pending completion of a rehabilitation program and regular drug testing.
Do You Need To Speak To A Virginia Divorce Attorney?
If you are considering divorce you need to speak with an experienced Virginia divorce attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Fairfax, Virginia law office at 703.277.2811 to schedule your free consultation. We help clients throughout Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia and look forward to helping you.