Alcohol Addiction in Divorce: A Guide for Michigan Residents

Divorcing an alcoholic spouse is usually a challenging journey, filled with emotional ups and downs. While the process can be draining and overwhelming, it’s vital to ensure your safety and the well-being of your children. In this article, The Kronzek Firm will outline the suggested steps and evidence required to prove alcoholism in Lansing area divorce proceedings here in our Michigan family courts.

Michigan, like many other states, practices “no-fault” divorce. This means the court won’t necessarily consider the reasons for the divorce when dividing marital assets and debts. Typically, marital assets and debts are divided equitably, though not necessarily equally. But divorce court judges are authorized to consider there was fault on the part of one spouse that caused the breakdown of the marriage. Some Mid-Michigan judges care about fault, and some don’t. However, when minor children are involved, the court prioritizes the safety and best interests of the children, and therefore may consider a parent’s alcoholism. 

Collecting Admissible Evidence for Proving Alcoholism in Divorce:

To substantiate claims of alcoholism, you’ll need to present relevant evidence that is considered admissible in court. Examples of such evidence include:

1. Police Reports, provided the Police Officer can testify;
2. Certified copies of Arrests or Criminal Charges related to alcohol-related incidents;
3. Statements from law enforcement, probation officers, social workers, friends, family, or others with firsthand knowledge of the spouse’s alcoholism if the statements meet specific evidentiary rules;
4. Bank and Credit Card Statements indicating frequent alcohol purchases that are properly authenticated;
5. Text messages and emails from the intoxicated spouse;
6. Photos of property damage or injuries caused by the spouse’s intoxication; and
7. Personal testimony about the spouse’s alcohol habits.

If children are involved, family courts prioritize their safety and well-being. Should you provide evidence of potential harm due to a spouse’s alcoholism, courts in Ingham County, Eaton County or Clinton County may:

1. Order both parents to undergo alcohol/drug testing;
2. Temporarily limit or modify the alcoholic spouse’s parenting time.

Potential Court Actions Regarding Alcoholic Parents:

1. Restriction of Overnight Parenting Time: The court may limit overnight visits.
2. Supervised Parenting Time: Parenting time could be under the watchful eyes of professionals, trusted family members, or the other parent.
3. Treatment Programs: The court might mandate the alcoholic parent to enroll in a treatment or rehabilitation program.
4. Random Alcohol Screenings: Courts can order periodic alcohol tests.
5. Sober Requirements During Parenting Time: Using technologies like Soberlink, courts ensure parents are sober during their time with the children.
6. Suspension of Parenting Time: In extreme situations involving severe threats to the child, courts may halt parenting time until the issue is addressed.

While every case is unique, our firm has had extensive experience handling divorces involving alcoholism. We have handled hundreds of divorce and custody cases in and around the Metro Lansing area. Here are a couple of examples from our Lansing, Michigan-based practice:

Eaton County: 
In a case, we represented a parent with allegations of the mother’s severe alcoholism. Following both parties undergoing alcohol testing—a test designed to detect extensive drinking—the mother’s test results showed frightening drinking patterns. The family court judge’s ruling caused the father to have restricted, supervised parenting time with the kids.

Ingham County: 
We represented a wife divorcing her alcoholic husband. The husband had an extensive criminal history showing drug and alcohol use. A structured “step-up” parenting plan was ordered by our judge, setting conditions and stages for increased parenting time, contingent upon consistent negative urine screening. 

Unfortunately, alcoholic parents might look to sidestep court mandates. So, having an experienced family law attorney to ensure full compliance with your judge’s orders is critical.

Starting the process of divorcing an alcoholic spouse can be frustrating, intimidating, and confusing. Our Lansing, Michigan law firm understands these complexities, providing clarity and support each step of the way. If you’re contemplating divorce due to a spouse’s alcoholism, drug abuse or any other reason, we’re here to guide and assist you in ensuring the best interests of you and your children are protected.

The Kronzek Firm has been helping clients all over Mid Michigan since the last century. Our acclaimed family law team can be reached by calling (517) 886-1000. 



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