My question is about proving significant alcohol abuse as a reason for divorce as it relates to custody. I want my girls to see their dad, because he loves them and he's a good dad when he's sober, but right now he's not healthy and they're afraid to be alone with him. I would absolutely adjust custody if/when he gets sober.
I can pull credit card records from months ago (and years of it) to show the hundreds of dollars per month he spent, but he started using all cash at the liquor stores in November when he realized that he could tell if he'd bought more than what he said he did based on the credit card total.
(Like, he'd say he bought a six-pack and the charge would be $23, so I'd know he got a larger bottle of Fireball and hidden it somewhere in the house, too.)
So, I can't prove he continues to abuse, although it's only gotten worse every single month.
Is it at all sensible to write down what he's drinking in the meantime? It'd be just my words on a piece of paper, unless I guess I took a photo of all the empties every day as well. And then it's still not really solid "evidence," you know?
Since it's so long until my consult, I didn't want to miss doing it if it's worthwhile, but I also don't want to do this thinking it will help (having to confront how bad he's gotten is really triggering for me) and have it all be for nothing.
Thanks for any insight. I'm so sad that I have to post this.
The Answer: Yes, you can still file for divorce and fight for primary custody without "proof."
We're so sorry that you had to post this question, too.
We hope that you and your family are in a safer place, and your husband has gotten the help he needs to defeat his apparent alcoholism.
Luckily, there are many creative ways you and your family lawyer could prove the abuse to the court, including but not limited to:
A written record of drinking, as you suggested, along with dates and details;
Sending a certified letter to a safe address -- such as your lawyer or a supportive family member -- immediately after an abuse event occurs, detailing the incident, and then do not open after receipt;
Comparing the cash withdrawal amounts with previous alcohol expenditures on credit cards, to see if it's the same amount of money going out as before, just in a different format;
Gathering testimony from the family doctor acknowledging his alcoholism, or from family members or friends who can corroborate your story.
(Note that Maryland is a two-party consent state when it comes to recording. That means you'd need his permission before recording any sort of incident involving him. Without his consent, it can't be admitted as legal evidence to prove the abuse.)
Our general disclaimer: We're lawyers, but not necessarily your lawyer, and do not represent the individual who asked this question. We're providing this information for general educational purposes based on the publicly available information provided by the anonymous Internet user. Any number of details may change how this individual's attorney may pursue this legal situation, differently from how we suppose above. If you have a similar question, then you should consult with a lawyer about your specific situation to get a "real" response!