Woman Having Counselling Session{3:06 minutes to read} I have had a number of cases where alcohol and drugs have been a major factor in the decision to get divorced. If there are children involved, how do you deal with somebody who’s an alcoholic whether they admit it or not? What if they’re using drugs? What can you do?

If one spouse is using drugs and/or is intoxicated and wants to share time with their children, that’s not going to happen. As a parent, you must hold the safety of your children above everything else. I believe it is a moral imperative to deny any parent sharing time with the children when that parent is intoxicated. 

If one parent has a history of drug use, then why not have a clause in your Settlement Agreement that calls for random drug testing? If they get tested and the result is negative, the suspicious spouse pays for the test. If it is positive, the user spouse pays for it and there is a 30-day suspension of visitation. There have to be consequences to a violation for it to have meaning.

The same rules can apply to alcohol. If the one spouse has the kids, and the other spouse notices they appear to be intoxicated—i.e., their speech is slurred, their eyes are bloodshot, and they have trouble standing or walking—then they really don’t have the ability to supervise the children. As a responsible parent, would you want to hand your children over to someone in that condition?

The intent of a clause like that in your Settlement Agreement isn’t to prove that the other spouse is a substance abuser. It is to make them aware and clearly spell out the consequences if they indulge in their addiction while the children are present.

Although it is mediation, we are dealing with real people in real-world situations. And unfortunately, alcohol and drug abuse is part of the real world. When you create your Settlement Agreement, if substance abuse is part of your world, I would strongly advise you to create a mechanism for dealing with this problem and consequences if and when it occurs.

Divorcing couples that have real world problems like substance abuse need mediators and attorneys to address these problems head-on. They must make sure that the Settlement Agreement provides protections for the children from parents who are substance abusers and consequences for them if they continue to indulge in their habits.

Don Sinkov

Don Sinkov
Your Divorce Mediator
Westchester County, NY
Putnam County, NY
Phone: (914) 588-6258
eMail: Info@YourDivorceMediator.com