Drug and alcohol misuse is a complex issue. When someone is misusing or suffering from addiction, not only does it have a vast negative impact on their own life, it affects everyone around them.

Those who misuse or are addicted may suffer from depression or struggle to control their emotions, find it difficult to hold down a job or perform academically, and neglect personal and family responsibilities. It can cause a great deal of stress to their partner, as they are left to pick up the pieces, pay the bills and care for the children alone, as well as feeling responsible for that person.  

Most parents and carers who drink alcohol or use drugs do so in moderation and don't present an increased risk of harm to their children (Cleaver et al, 2011). However, parents and carers who misuse substances often have chaotic, inconsistent and unpredictable lifestyles. As a result they may struggle to provide their children with safe care and clear boundaries.

There is clear evidence that where children grow up in a family where a parent suffers from alcohol or drug dependency, there will be significant harm to children’s wellbeing and to their long-term outcomes. Nearly one in five Children in Need assessments in 2016-17 included alcohol misuse as a factor, and between 2011 and 2014 alcohol dependency was implicated in over a third of serious case reviews, where a child was killed or seriously injured. Children of alcohol and/or drug dependent parents may suffer physical and emotional abuse or neglect, inadequate supervision or inappropriate parenting. They are at higher risk of not reaching their academic potential, acting out, and developing their own alcohol and drug use problems.

On divorce, the court first considers the welfare of any child. Courts may look at drug and alcohol misuse as reducing the capacity of a parent to take care of their child. This places an increased burden on the parent who does not have addiction issues, who may then have to assume greater responsibility for caring for the children without practical support from the other parent and, more often than not, without financial support from the other parent who may not be able to function well and have an inconsistent work record.

Myerson’s family team are highly experienced in resolving practical issues resulting from a relationship breakdown and other family disputes. We work hard building close relationships with the best counsellors, independent social workers and psychologists. Therefore you can be assured that you will be provided with the right information and support to rebuild your family relations. 

In addition, Myerson is a member of Resolution, which promotes a non-confrontational approach to family disputes, is committed to being constructive and finds solutions that consider the needs of the whole family – in particular the best interests of children.

If you require advice you can contact one of our family law solicitors on 0161 941 4000 or email us at lawyers@myerson.co.uk.