Along with other key issues including; financial, communication and incompatibility, addiction is one of the top reasons why many couples end up going through a divorce. If you find yourself divorcing, for this reason, you may be wondering how to protect your child from an alcoholic parent. After all, just because you had to put up with the behavior doesn’t mean you child should.According to Project Know, 1 in 13 adults, abuse alcohol or have an alcoholism problem. It affects both men and women. It is a problem that many people getting a divorce must deal with. Maybe the addictions were there when you were dating and it didn’t bother you or maybe it escalated as the marriage went on. Either way, co-habituating with a spouse with an addiction is difficult and adding children to the mix might just be a deal breaker. Of course, there are other addictions that can ruin a marriage and be extremely difficult on kids, including drugs, gambling, pornography, or even a heavy shopping addiction. It is important to meet with a Board-Certified family lawyer to discuss the issue and guide you through the process of divorcing an alcoholic. Below are some useful tips to help you protect your child.
How do I protect my child from an alcoholic parent?
Talk to your child honestly. Depending on the age of your child it might behoove you to share information. If you feel the child is old enough, mentally, then have a conversation with them. This is not a conversation to run down your ex. You do not want to be negative. You want to be honest. Tell them about the disease and its effects. If you are sharing custody already, create a code word with your child so when they call they can use the word to let you know they do not feel safe. Let them know if they see mom or dad drinking they should not get in the car with the parent. Share that if they are in the alcoholic’s custody they can call 911 if they are feeling unsafe. Now is a good time to teach them how to protect themselves when they are not under your watch. Hire a family lawyer and word your divorce decree to protect the child. A huge concern of having an alcoholic parent is the safety of the child. One main concern is driving after all children depend on their parents to be their chauffeur. You can have it stipulated in the divorce decree that you are responsible for all pick-ups and drop-off for visitations. You can also try to make sure they do not get in the car unless their sobriety has been monitored. There is now a discreet device that monitors alcohol levels and can help you protect your child. If it has already been proven in court that the spouse has an alcohol problem, you have a better chance the judge will agree with the wording in the decree. Engage a therapist for your child Hire an age appropriate therapist for your child. They are going through a tumultuous time, dealing with a divorce and an alcoholic parent. It is a safe person for children to share their feelings with and they also provide a neutral third party that is needed during this time. If your ex sees therapy as a problem, you can also add that need to the divorce decree. Have the Conversation with your Ex Conversation needs to happen. You need to lay down what kind of behavior you expect with the kids and set boundaries on what is appropriate. Make a list and let your ex know the repercussions if the boundaries are broken. This can be a scary conversation and one best handled in front of a third party. Be there for your children You have a lot on your shoulders but you need to be a parent your child can count on. Most likely, they will be let down often if the other parent is an alcoholic. They might miss visitations or important milestones due to drinking. You will need to be there for them. To listen and not judge. It is best not to degrade your ex, although it can be tempting when they hurt your child. “How do I protect my child from an alcoholic parent?” As family law lawyers, this is a question we answer often. Remember people do change, and can get sober, so we hope for the best. Meanwhile, Puhl Law Group, P.C can help you help you during this difficult time. Please call to schedule an appointment today.