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Divorcing a spouse with addiction issues

Anyone who has tried to maintain a relationship with a spouse who is out of control with addiction to drugs or alcohol knows firsthand the heartache and futility that brings. At a certain point, the relationship devolves to a codependent mess. That's when it's time to make the break a permanent one.

Sober spouses are often shocked to discover that a past strewn with substance abuse, arrests and failed attempts at rehab do not automatically preclude their children's other parent from remaining involved in their lives.

That's not to say that you can't push for supervised visitation or certain other conditions, like random drug or alcohol testing, completion of a rehab program or attendance at AA/NA meetings. Your family law attorney will certainly pull out all of the stops to get these terms approved.

The court will see both sides

Yes, Daddy may be a drunk or Mommy has a pill problem, but the odds are good the kids still love them. New Jersey courts try to find a role for both parents in their children's lives, especially if the parent with the drug or alcohol problem seeks help. Still, the road to sobriety is not always without pitfalls, so courts try to put safety nets in place. These are the special conditions that can keep your child safe while letting him or her share a relationship with the other parent.

Document any slip-ups or major custody fails

You don't have to be the custody police every time your ex is five minutes late swapping the kids. But if you suspect addiction is ongoing or that visitation is taking place while your ex is impaired, make a record of it. Jot down the specific problem, including your suspicions of your ex's intoxication while with the kids. This can be vital to obtaining a custody modification, if necessary.

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