Does your ex’s substance abuse make you want sole custody?
McWhorter Law Firm Attorneys

Does your ex’s substance abuse make you want sole custody?

| Feb 12, 2021 | Family Law |

When you first met your spouse, their life-of-the-party attitude might have been very attractive. You may have had a lot of fun together early in your relationship. However, you got married and had children. Life looks a lot different now, and the wild nights aren’t so fun anymore.

Maybe your ex never outgrew that partying stage. Perhaps their occasional substance abuse turned into a full-fledged addiction. Maybe they have just recently begun to revisit their younger, wilder days, complete with stumbling home drunk or under the influence of illegal substances in the wee hours of the morning.

Even if your spouse’s substance abuse is not the specific reason you file for divorce, it may be part of the issue. Will their drinking problem or drug use mean that you have a chance to ask for sole custody?

It is true that the Arizona family courts prefer shared custody

You probably heard that shared custody or co-parenting arrangements are the new normal in the Arizona family courts. Research has made it clear that both parents are crucial to the happiness and development of children. The courts want to make custody decisions that are in the best interests of the children.

For most families changing via a divorce, the courts order shared custody. However, when one parent can’t or won’t fulfill their parental responsibilities, the other parent can ask for full custody. Substance abuse or chemical dependence is a common reasons cited by one spouse seeking sole custody in a divorce.

Before you head to court, you will need some kind of proof

You can’t just get up on the stand and insist that your ex is a violent drunk. The courts are suspicious of any claims intended to influence the custody terms that they set. The more evidence you have of your spouse’s problem, the better.

Maybe they got pulled over for drunk driving, so there’s a police report. Perhaps they’ve gotten into fights at parties or bars, or wound up arrested because they had drugs in their possession. Criminal records can go a long way toward validating your concerns. The same is true of medical records if hospitalization or treatment has been necessary for your spouse’s habits.

Statements by others familiar with the situation can help, as can your spouse’s social media posts if they like to share their habits with others. The sooner you begin collecting evidence, the easier it will be for you to persevere in what could easily become a protracted custody battle.