Minnesota's Family Law Blog

How To Overcome Addiction Issues In A Minnesota Divorce:

Wow, pretty dour topic.  As you, my dear readers, probably know this is a bit more intense than my normal headlines.  But, I wanted to discuss a common misconception that is going around Minnesota courthouse these days, and that is that if you have addiction issues; alcohol or drugs come to mind, then you can not get custody of your kids.   That’s not true.

What is true is that if you have an addiction and you are not getting help for it, then you’ve got a problem when it comes to custody in Minnesota.  You see, Judges like to send the kids to homes and to people they feel comfortable with.  It’s really some basic self-interest, the Judges will follow the law, but why would they take a risk…for you? They really don’t know you, they only know what your lawyer and what the other side says about you (which is usually NOT very nice).

So, if your spouse says you’re a drunk and you’ve got 3 DWI’s and some people will say that they’ve seen you drunk around the kids and you’re still drinking. What do you think the Judge will do? Here’s a hint: you’ll have a couple empty car seats for a few years.  The only way to overcome a horrible fact pattern like this (and believe it or not, it’s not that uncommon) is to get a Chemical Dependency evaluation and follow it.  You need to prove to the Judge that if you have a problem, you’re getting help.  The worst thing that can happen is if you have all these terrible facts, but refuse to admit you have a problem.

Ok, Ok, but what if REALLY don’t have a problem? Well as they say in science it’s difficult to prove a negative.  But talk to your lawyer, ask him or her what they think? Will it look to the Judge as if you have some addiction problem?  If so, get it treated right away.

The biggest myth is that if you are seeking treatment for chemical use issue (or mental health for that matter) then you’ll be punished.  In my 11 years of being a divorce lawyer I’ve found the exact opposite is true.  If you have a chemical use issue and it’s treated, it is a benefit not a liability.  One exception is if you don’t have enough time between some incident and getting help.  Time is an ally for you.

Well, there you go, my latest comments about Addiction and Divorce in Minnesota.  I’ll be the first to admit it’s rocket science it’s much more just common sense, but sometimes if you are in the middle of the divorce it’s hard to see straight.   For a complete list of how the Judge will decide where the kids go in Minnesota look HERE

Information obtained in mankatofamilylaw.com may contain knowledgable content about Minnesota Family Law that may be considered beneficial to some; however, in no way should this website or its contents be considered legal advice. Mr. Kohlmeyer is a Minnesota licensed Attorney and cannot provide legal services or guidance to those outside of Minnesota. If you wish to retain Mr. Kohlmeyer as your Attorney in your Family Law matter, contact 507-205-9736

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Comments 3
  1. Here was an email I received today:


    My wife and I have been married for four year’s I had a house and she sold her’s for seventy thousand so we put an addition on mine and after we were married I figured out she is a alcoholic every day she drinks and get’s bombed, her whole family knew I had no clue I was told she went in for treatment for two day’s and left ,my grown son’s wont even come over any more, she is very controlling and evil her family thought I knew about her problem and about her treatment and she was put into detox I didn’t have a clue now I find myself finding bottle’s hidden all over glass full of booze hidden. This house is all I have my kid’s grew up here I owe 130k thousand on it we refinanced last year her name is on it. I had no idea she had this problem I cant pay her back I will have to sell the house and lose on it. her kid’s don’t come around much they all knew about her problem I don’t even drink. is there a law since I was not informed that I can save myself from financial ruin I am fifty year’s old I didn’t see it coming



    I’m sorry to hear about your troubles, generally speaking we are a no fault state which means, at least for property division, her chemical dependency issues are not really going to matter during the divorce. While it’s true that chemical dependency issues are a big part of custody cases, they are not so for property division.

    Is it fair? Well I don’t need to tell you the answer to that as you already know, but it is the system we have in Minnesota. I’m not defending it just telling you that’s what we’ve got right now.

    Best of Luck,


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