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Do You Need Help Divorcing an Addict?


Spouses faced with addiction being a third party in their relationship generally find divorce as their only way out. As a psychologically- trained medical professional and divorce attorney, I have a unique approach to guiding couples through divorce while addressing addiction.

I can often identify addiction behaviors while navigating the mediation process with divorcing couples. In some cases, addiction is evident to a spouse, in others, it is not.

I worked with an amazing couple last year at the beginning of the pandemic who on the outside appeared happy, and their life looked as though they had it all together. He was a scientist, she a marketing expert. They had an adorable 8-year-old son, a home in Oyster Bay, and assets totaling $20 million.

What the wife didn’t realize, for a long time, was that her husband was abusing prescription drugs. Apparently he was involved in a bad auto accident, took painkillers, and got hooked. He hid his addiction really well and she was embarrassed she didn’t know.

Marriage counseling hadn’t worked. His addiction treatments never lasted, and it was time to dissolve their marriage. Still caring for her husband, the wife expressed wanting to help him with his issues while divorcing. I was able to connect him to an effective addiction specialist and the couple was finally able to move through their divorce.

I share this story with you so you know you are not alone. Addictions are a part of life and during the pandemic addictions have escalated in record numbers.

Here’s what I tell spouses considering divorce:

1. Courage, Planning, & Preparation

Find the courage to decide you want out of your marriage. It’s hard, but if you have tried everything and you are unhappy, take action. Do some research and decide who can help you, gather your documents, financial statements, tax returns, property details, and budgetary needs. Think about the survival of yourself and your family.

2. Functional Addict Vs. Dysfunctional Addict

A functional addict can usually hold a job, can make a good income, can seem very normal, often build a tolerance, and most important, hide their addiction--you may not know they are an addict.

The dysfunctional addict bounces from job to job, is always lying, may have DWIs, sometimes a criminal record. They are more identifiable. If you are aware of the addiction, and depending on what type of addict your spouse is, the method you use for divorcing will be important.

3. The Right Divorce Vehicle

Sometimes mediation can help when addiction is in the mix. In my mediation process, once I identify addiction, if it is not already evident to the spouse, I introduce my team of experts who can help as therapists/and or addiction specialists so the spouse in emotional pain can be treated for their addiction while working through their divorce. A mentally/physically better spouse can participate more fully and effectively in the decision-making process in a divorce.

If the story I shared above sounds like you, there is help! While addictions can ruin marriages, it is possible to navigate a sane and sound divorce even when addiction is on board.

With over 35 years of legal experience and medical training, I can uniquely guide you towards a happier and healthier life.

Call today to book your free consultation 212.734.1551.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic all our FREE 1 HOUR CONSULTATIONS are conveniently conducted virtually to reduce risk.

I look forward to working with you and sharing my special team of experts with you!

Stay healthy ans safe!

Warm wishes,


Divorce Lawyer Lois Brenner can help your family struggling with addiction and considering divorce. Call now to book your free consultation.

We have a few appointments still available for this week!

Call 212.734.1551.