How Do You Prove Alcoholism in Custody Cases?
Custody cases are all about the best interests of the children. That said, alcohol abuse is definitely a factor the courts consider when deciding custody. Allegations are rampant in divorce and custody cases, and as a result, accusations alone don’t carry a ton of weight. Proving your spouse’s alcohol problem is essential in a child custody case, but this isn’t always easy to do.
The best way to prove your spouse has a drinking problem is to get evidence that suggests it really is a problem and not just the ammunition of an aggrieved spouse.
What Is an Alcohol Problem?
While it might be morally reprehensible to get drunk every day, it doesn’t in and of itself constitute a problem. Someone who comes home every evening and drinks until they’re unconscious is probably not a model parent. However, that alone can not, from a legal perspective, be called a problem.
Instead, a drinking problem must impair a person’s ability to function or cause immediate danger or harm, according to the American Bar Association. Alcoholics are very good at downplaying their drinking habits, so it’s crucial to provide evidence that your spouse’s drinking is disruptive to the family environment.
Types of Evidence
Both fortunate and unfortunate is the fact that, over a long enough period, people with drinking problems usually are disruptive and do cause problems at home. All you need to do is take advantage of these situations and collect every type of evidence you can.
In addition to yourself and your children, uninvolved third-parties have likely witnessed your spouse’s alcoholic tendencies and disruptive behavior. Often, these witnesses will be your friends. Your friends can provide their testimony, and it will be considered. However, the courts will take into account that these witnesses are your friends, so unbiased witnesses, such as neighbors, are a bit more useful.
While not as strong as witnesses, pictures can help substantiate your claim that your spouse’s drinking is disruptive to your household’s wellbeing. Examples might include photos of:
- Empty alcohol containers strewn about the house
- Damage to walls, doors, or furniture due to an angry outburst or your spouse falling down, tripping over furniture, etc.
- Anything else that suggests dysfunction due to alcohol abuse
Police and Hospital Records
If your spouse has been drinking for a long time, they may have a lengthy police record of alcohol-related incidents. If this is the case, you may not have to try very hard at all to convince the court that there’s a problem. Additionally, hospitalizations for alcohol-related incidents or injuries may also help you prove your case.
Ethyl Glucuronide Tests (EtG)
If there’s not a ton of evidence that your spouse has a drinking problem, you may be able to ask the court to force your spouse to submit to an ethyl glucuronide test or EtG. EtG tests can detect alcohol use up to 80 days after ingestion and even tell the difference between heavy and light drinking up to five days.
This is far from concrete evidence. Nonetheless, it can be used in conjunction with other types of evidence to help strengthen your claim.
You don’t technically need an attorney to represent you in a child custody case. However, it’s extremely unwise to try to go it alone, especially when alcohol or substance abuse is involved. Instead of gambling and hoping for the best, you should contact an attorney who handles child custody cases. A competent family law attorney can evaluate your case’s strengths and weaknesses and help you obtain full custody of your children.
By Cheryl Roy
Author’s bio: Passionate writer and contributor to several professional websites. I like to debate complex topics and I’m always up for new challenges. Doing research and discovering new information are two aspects marked as a priority when I’m writing my articles and ideas.