Will smoking pot affect your divorce proceedings?
It can – marijuana is still 100% illegal in SC. Even if it were legal and you were a marijuana cardholder, it could still affect your divorce proceedings. In this article, we will look at a few of the ways that smoking pot can affect your divorce proceedings including:
- How smoking pot can affect child custody decisions,
- How smoking pot can affect other issues in your divorce like alimony and division of marital assets,
- What happens if your spouse accuses you of smoking pot in your divorce proceedings, and
- When smoking pot can result in DSS involvement.
Will Smoking Pot Affect My Divorce? How Can it Hurt My Divorce Proceedings?
We understand that pot smoking may be the least hazardous type of illicit drug use there is. The problem is 1) it is illegal and 2) many family court judges may disagree and believe that pot smoking is very harmful…
Our main concern about how smoking pot will affect a client’s divorce proceedings is child custody and visitation, but it can also affect matters like alimony awards and the division of marital assets.
Child Custody and Drug Use
When determining child custody issues, the family court must make a decision based on the best interests of the child, and, especially if all else is equal, the court may find that placing the child with a parent who smokes pot is not in the child’s best interest.
If you smoke pot in front of the child, that is almost certain to result in a referral to DSS and will make it more difficult to win primary custody of the child.
Even if you do not smoke pot in front of the child, the court may find that it is not in the child’s best interests to be placed with a parent who uses marijuana because:
- Impaired judgment might make it more difficult to care for the child,
- Smoking pot can lead to slowed reactions and you may not be thinking clearly or take appropriate action when there is an emergency involving the child,
- You could be arrested for driving under the influence or for possession of marijuana,
- The child could be exposed to marijuana use unintentionally, no matter how careful you are to hide it from them, and
- The child could find marijuana or paraphernalia that you unintentionally left laying out (or the child could find your hiding spot).
Alimony and Drug Use
It’s also possible that smoking pot can affect your divorce if you are asking the court for alimony (or asking the court not to award alimony to your spouse).
The factors found in SC Code § 20-3-130(C) that the court must consider when deciding whether to award alimony and how much alimony to award include “marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties” if the misconduct has:
- Affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or
- Contributed to the breakup of the marriage.
For example, the court may find that one spouse’s marijuana habit affected the economic circumstances of the household when significant amounts of money have been spent buying weed instead of paying bills or saving money, and the spouse seeking alimony may tell the court that the other spouse’s pot smoking contributed to the breakup of the marriage…
Division of Marital Assets and Drug Use
Similarly, if the court is asked to divide the marital assets in a contested hearing, the court must consider the apportionment factors found in SC Code § 20-3-620, which include marital misconduct when it has affected the economic circumstances of the parties or contributed to the breakup of the marriage.
Will Smoking Pot Affect My Divorce? What Happens if My Spouse Accuses Me of Using Drugs?
What happens if your spouse accuses you of smoking pot during your divorce proceedings?
First, be honest when you respond to the court – in many cases, the judge will order drug testing for one or both parties on the spot, and, if you lie about your drug use, it can make your situation worse.
The court may use the drug test results to help determine whether there will be alimony awarded, how the marital property is divided, and who gets primary custody of the child.
Even worse, the court could order a DSS investigation. There may be follow-up drug tests, a DSS plan that you must comply with to keep your children or to visit with your children, and, depending on the circumstances, the court could take additional steps like denying visitation or ordering supervised visitation only…
How Can I Help My Divorce Case if I Smoke Marijuana?
Especially if you are seeking primary custody of your children, you should stop smoking marijuana, stop any other illicit drug use, and refrain from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
If you do smoke pot, tell your attorney upfront, and, if it becomes an issue in your case, do not lie to the court about your drug use.
If you need help with any type of substance abuse, seek help – your attorney may be able to recommend a treatment program or counseling that may help when you present the court with 1) documentation that you have completed counseling and 2) clean drug screens.
If you are considering divorce, whether it is a simple uncontested divorce or complex proceedings with significant assets, get an experienced family court attorney on your side immediately.
Your Myrtle Beach divorce lawyer on the Axelrod team will answer your questions, fight for your rights, your financial security, and your children, and walk with you throughout what will almost certainly be a painful and difficult process.