If a husband or wife has a drinking problem, it affects the other spouse and the children. The drinking is often accompanied by rage and domestic violence.  Sometimes this has gone on for years until there is a crisis event. The issue is brought to the court, either through a domestic violence incident, divorce, custody/parenting time dispute, or driving while intoxicated charge.  

The courts need objective evidence to make rulings to protect the family.  Alcoholism needs to be treated and stopped, if possible.  The recommendations of a drug and alcohol counselor or doctor may be used.  

Children are at risk if left in the care of an alcoholic. Many times, the alcoholic is in denial and will demand the same free access to the children as a non-alcoholic. The other parent is often scared, frustrated, and many times has been bullied by the alcoholic spouse.

If there is a police incident and the person appeared to be under the influence, the court will be involved.  A spouse may have to record the intoxicated person’s belligerent communications to show domestic violence.   It is not illegal to record a conversation to which one is a party.  Alcoholism alone is not domestic violence.  

When the court has some evidence, it will order an expert evaluation. Until the evaluation is done the courts are likely to limit parenting time and require supervision.  An attorney can assist in getting the court to order remedies. Also, if the alcoholic has lost his job and is not working due to his/her habit, the attorney can help protect the working parent against the unreasonable demands for support made by the alcoholic.  The attorney can help ensure that if the alcoholic is not carrying his/her fair share, or is dissipating marital assets, it will not be tolerated.

For a consultation call Helfand & Associates at 973-539-1000, 0ur experienced matrimonial attorneys, handling all aspects of Family Law.

Tanya N. Helfand, Esq. is a Certified Matrimonial Attorney, a Mediator and Panelist in the Morris and Essex County ESP Programs.  The firm welcomes your questions and inquiries at [email protected]. We handle cases in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Hudson, Union, Somerset, Sussex and other New Jersey counties.