DUI & Divorce

Nearly half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Based on my many years of experience as a trial lawyer in California and then a family law mediator in Phoenix Arizona, coupled with my psychology background, the likelihood of divorce and its complexity is much greater when a husband or wife has been arrested as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or some other intoxicant. As explained further below, a driving under the influence (“DUI”) charge is likely to add emotional stress, financial strain, and increased complexity to the divorce:

Emotional Stress

A DUI Arrest Can Increase Complexity Of A Divorce Emotional stress to both spouses is inherent to the criminal proceedings that typically follow an arrest for driving under the influence. The DUI spouse is likely to experience a wide range of emotions, from anxiousness to anger, disappointment to depression, and regret to remorse. The non-DUI spouse (and perhaps other family members or close friends as well) is apt to experience his or her own assortment of similar emotions. Additionally, the non-DUI spouse is likely to feel frustrated, if not fed up, with the DUI spouse. This frustration is likely to be intensified if the DUI spouse has a chronic alcohol or drug problem that has been a source of contention during the marriage.

Emotional stress is also inherent to divorce proceedings, especially when adversarial lawyers are involved. Suffice it to say that anger and hostility significantly increase when divorcing couples fight it out through lawyers and the Phoenix courts. Thus, the stress most couples experience during divorce litigation is likely to be significantly heightened by a DUI.

Financial Strain

Financial strain is also inherent to the criminal proceedings that follow an arrest for DUI. The costs involved in having to come up with the money to post bail, retain a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer, and pay a fine commonly cause many already-fragile marriages to fall apart.

Likewise, financial strain is typical of divorce proceedings. It is well known that divorce lawyers are very expensive; they charge thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. Thus, the costs associated with a DUI add to the already-existing financial strain caused by divorce.

Increased Complexity

Arrest for driving under the influence of an intoxicant is also very likely to increase the complexity of a divorce. Monetary issues are likely to arise about use of marital funds to pay for the DUI spouse’s criminal defense lawyer, court imposed fines, and damages to others such as when the DUI spouse caused injury to another person or property. Monetary issues are also apt to arise as how to account for any loss of wages or other income that resulted from the DUI spouse’s incarceration and/or suspended or revoked driving privileges.

When minor children are involved, the complexity of divorce proceedings is sure to increase even more. For example, the non-DUI spouse often seeks sole versus joint custody of the minor children, which if granted means that the non-DUI spouse would have the legal right to make autonomous decisions about the children’s medical needs, education, and similarly important decisions concerning minor children. The non-DUI spouse may also want the court to limit the amount of time that the DUI spouse spends with the children on weekdays, weekends, holidays, and school vacations. In addition, the non-DUI spouse may seek an order of court restricting, if not prohibiting, when and under what circumstances the DUI spouse can drive with the children.

Marriage counseling, individual psychotherapy, 12-Step groups such as AA and Alanon may help reduce the emotional stress and financial strain on a marriage that inevitably follows when a spouse has been arrested for DUI. However, when coupled with divorce, the best way a DUI and non-DUI spouse can diminish the degree of stress, strain, and complexity of their divorce proceedings is to employ a professional divorce mediator with backgrounds in law and psychology. This is because an experienced and knowledgeable Phoenix divorce mediator, as opposed to adversarial lawyers, can help both the DUI and non-DUI spouse communicate effectively and provide information needed for them to make fully informed decisions about each and every aspect of their situation, including what may or may not be in the best interests of their minor children. Thus, a Phoenix mediator inevitably helps to substantially reduce the divorcing couple’s emotional stress and financial strain as well as the complexity of their divorce proceedings.

Author Oliver Ross Mediator Written By:
Out-of-Court Solutions
8350 E. Raintree Drive, Suite A-205
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
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