Substance abuse is something that people hide from their closest loved ones. You could have dated for years and never realize that your significant other was drinking on a daily basis or abusing prescription pain pills. It’s also possible that your spouse did not have a substance abuse issue when you first got married but has since developed a problem in recent years.
A spouse who drinks or does drugs will keep an unpredictable schedule. They might lose their job and be unable to properly contribute to your family. They may even become abusive or violent while under the influence or withdrawing from their substance of choice between binges.
Will the Minnesota courts ever consider substance abuse when dividing your marital property?
There are two reasons addiction can influence property division
If you married someone with an existing substance abuse issue or grew aware of the problem, you may have negotiated a marital agreement with your spouse. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that imposes financial penalties for substance abuse during the marriage could give you grounds to speak compensation from your spouse during your divorce proceeding.
If you don’t have a marital agreement, you still may be able to hold your spouse accountable for the financial impact of their addiction. The Minnesota courts will consider evidence of dissipation or wasteful spending of marital resources during property division proceedings. If you can show how much your spouse has spent on alcohol or the value of the property they pawned to buy drugs, the courts may integrate that information into the property division process.
The greater the financial impact of the addiction, the more likely the courts are to reduce what they give your spouse or increase what you receive as a result of that misconduct.
A careful financial review can help you develop the best strategy
If you don’t have financial records showing the impact of your spouse’s addiction on their behavior and you never signed a marital agreement, you may have limited options for holding your spouse accountable.
Reviewing your household records with the lawyer who will represent you during the divorce can help you decide how to handle property division matters and explore your options for holding your spouse accountable. Some people will find that they don’t have many opportunities for true financial justice, so pursuing a divorce as soon as possible to mitigate future financial liability may be the best option.
Learning more about the rules that apply to property division in Minnesota divorces can help you determine what kind of justice will be available in your case.