Divorce Law Monitor

Navigating Co-Parenting With a Partner Who Abuses Alcohol

April 21, 2022


Alcohol consumption is widespread in American culture. A 2020 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control found that two-thirds (66.3%) of American adults consumed alcohol in the past year, with 5.1% of them admitting to engaging in regular heavy drinking.

The likelihood of divorce triples for couples where one party struggles with alcohol. According to some statistics, more than 14.5 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse disorders – defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a chronic relapsing brain disorder characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.

Study data reflects that more than 7.5 million children in the United States live with a parent who suffers from an alcohol abuse disorder.

How are children protected during a divorce? The Court always strives to maintain a parental relationship while also protecting the child(ren) from harm. When a parent’s alcohol use impairs their ability to care for a child physically and/or emotionally during or after a divorce, the Court will intervene.

Interventions can include:

  • Requiring a parent to maintain sobriety in order to exercise parenting time, which is monitored through random urine screens or the use of a remote alcohol monitoring device (i.e., a pocket breathalyzer that reports results – and missed tests – in real-time to attorneys and the other parent);
  • Requiring a parent to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or another treatment program;
  • Requiring a parent to engage in and regularly attend therapy to work on addiction issues;
  • Requiring that parenting time be supervised by an approved family member or friend or that parenting time take place at a supervised visitation center with a professional supervisor;
  • Suspending all parenting time for a period of time while a parent obtains treatment for alcohol addiction.

If you are co-parenting with someone who abuses alcohol, get the advice of an attorney who can assist you in obtaining appropriate protections for your child(ren).

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