Is collaborative divorce right for marriages affected by addiction?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Collaborative Law

Spouses file for divorce for all kinds of reasons. Some people divorce due to adultery or abuse. Other times, it may be changes in conduct or personality that lead to a divorce. Perhaps the spouses frequently drank together when they first met but having children or pursuing professional success led to one person limiting their alcohol consumption while the other continued, undeterred by changing life circumstances.

Maybe one spouse developed a substance abuse disorder, possibly because of an injury that led to a pain medication prescription. Divorcing because of addiction is tragic but somewhat common. The person who files for divorce may feel guilty about their choice while simultaneously recognizing its necessity. They may want to minimize the negative impact the divorce has on their spouse and any children they share.

Is collaborative divorce a good option for someone who is divorcing because of a substance abuse issue?

Collaborative divorce is more amicable

The stress of an acrimonious divorce could potentially worsen an already debilitating substance abuse disorder. Someone struggling to control their use of alcohol or drugs may find it even more difficult to regulate their behavior during the emotional turmoil of divorce. Collaborative divorce does not eliminate the stressors that arise during divorce, but it can reduce the conflict between the spouses. Less conflict means less stress, and potentially fewer triggers for someone to over-consume their substance of choice.

Collaborative divorce is private

It may be necessary to discuss someone’s substance abuse matters during divorce negotiations to ensure that custody arrangements properly protect children and to account for possibly wasteful spending on drugs or alcohol during property division proceedings. During a collaborative divorce, meetings are conducted outside of court and people can better preserve their privacy. Only the final proposals submitted to the court for approval become part of the public record. The custody arrangements and property division settlements spouses negotiate do not necessarily need to include any details about substance abuse challenges.

Suggesting a collaborative divorce can be a way to reduce the challenges of ending a marriage when a spouse has an issue with substance abuse. Collaborative divorce can help both spouses navigate the stress of divorcing when one or both has an addiction issue, and provide a more private, amicable result.