Addiction Related Issues in Divorce: Causation, Alimony, Property Division, Custody Issues

This program has been cancelled

A live 90-minute CLE webinar with interactive Q&A

Thursday, March 11, 2021 (in 13 days)

1:00pm-2:30pm EST, 10:00am-11:30am PST

(Alert: Event date has changed from 12/8/2020!)

This CLE webinar will equip family law attorneys to address unfamiliar and complex addiction related issues that are arising more and more frequently in divorce cases. The program will focus on how active addiction alters each stage of the process and how counsel must adjust their analysis and recommendations accordingly. The webinar will view these issues primarily from the perspective of the spouse divorcing the active addict but will include some material related to representing the addicted spouse.


Addiction related issues in a divorce are increasing at an alarming rate. The addiction may be to substances, such as alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescribed pharmaceuticals (opioids), or to conduct, such as gambling, video games, or sex. The defendant may be a high functioning professional who shows no outward signs of addiction or someone unable to maintain employment. The addicted spouse may categorically deny any problem or claim his or her conduct is under control. The degree and severity of addiction vary widely from case to case, but the adverse effects of the addiction only increase over time.

Addicts are often unpredictable, unstable, and even dangerous. Practitioners must educate themselves about addiction, how it affects the addict's behavior and reasoning, the effects on each family member, and the impact on the divorce case. Counsel must understand how the petitioning spouse coped with or enabled the problem.

Substance abuse and addiction will influence alimony, division of property, and custody issues. When the addict is the primary financial support for the family, the filing spouse faces more significant challenges. The addicted spouse may not be entitled to alimony or an equitable division of property if that spouse has improperly wasted assets supporting the addiction. If addiction is grounds for divorce, independent evidence may be required, but difficult to obtain. Experts or private investigators may be required. In some states, drug evaluations are necessary, and special care must be observed to maintain admissibility.

Listen as this experienced panel of a family lawyer and a psychologist/child custody evaluator discusses particularly challenging issues, additional difficulties, and more complex legal issues involved in divorcing a spouse struggling with addiction.



  1. The nature of addiction
  2. Co-morbidity and dual diagnosis
  3. The course of chemical dependence
  4. Predictors of chemical dependence
  5. Commonly abused substances and their effects
  6. How addiction damages the family system
  7. The role of the non-addicted spouse, codependence, and parental gatekeeping
  8. The role of the child custody evaluator in a California child custody case and making recommendations to protect the children
  9. The role of the family law attorney in a California child custody case who represents the non-addicted or addicted spouse
  10. Proving the nature and extent of the addiction in California Family Court and common defenses
  11. The role of the California Family Court
  12. Drafting California child custody orders that are protective of the children
  13. Accountability after the child custody recommendations and court orders
  14. Addiction and non-child custody related issues in a family law case in California


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What is addiction?
  • How to identify addiction
  • How, when, and how often to test for addiction
  • What kind of tests are out there and what do they tell you?
  • What kind of treatment options exist?
  • What relief should attorneys seek?
  • When should one divorce the addicted spouse?


Farzad, B. Robert
B. Robert Farzad

Managing Partner
Farzad & Ochoa Family Law Attorneys

Mr. Farzad is actively involved in the firm's divorce and parentage cases, with a focus on the complex divorce...  |  Read More

Johnson, W. Russell
W. Russell Johnson, Ph.D.

Mr. Johnson, Ph.D. is a California licensed psychologist who has specialized in clinical and forensic psychology...  |  Read More