Substance abuse can have severe implications on family law cases, particularly when it involves matters related to divorce and child custody. In this article, we delve into how substance abuse issues may influence these proceedings.
In New Jersey, substance abuse may impact the grounds for divorce. Although New Jersey is a ‘no-fault’ divorce state (where no specific reason is needed for divorce beyond irreconcilable differences), drug or alcohol addiction can still play a role in the proceedings. It may be considered as a form of ‘extreme cruelty,’ especially if it has caused emotional distress to the spouse filing for divorce.
Child Custody and Visitation
Substance abuse can significantly influence child custody decisions. The primary concern of New Jersey courts in child custody disputes is the child’s best interests. If one parent has a history of substance abuse, the court might deem that parent unfit to have physical custody or unsupervised visitation rights, given the potential harm to the child’s physical and emotional well-being.
In some cases, the court may order supervised visitation or demand that the parent(s) undergo regular drug testing. Severe cases could lead to the termination of parental rights, particularly when the substance abuse has led to child abuse or neglect.
Alimony and Child Support
While substance abuse does not directly affect alimony and child support determinations, it might indirectly influence them. For instance, if substance abuse impacts a person’s employment status and, subsequently, their income, this could affect the amount of alimony or child support they are required to pay or receive.
In some cases, if it can be proven that a spouse excessively used marital assets to support their addiction, it could affect the division of property. The court may decide to reimburse the unaffected spouse a portion of the misused assets.
Substance abuse and addiction issues can greatly affect the outcome of family law cases. For those struggling with these issues, it’s advisable to seek professional help and legal counsel to navigate these complex situations. Legal representation is crucial to ensure that all parties, especially children, are adequately protected during these proceedings.
If you or someone you know has a question regarding their divorce and substance abuse, contact the Williams Law Group, at (908) 810-1083, today to learn more about how we can assist you.