Is Being a Habitual Drug Addict Grounds for Divorce Cases in Georgia?

by Heather Frances J.D. Google

There may be many reasons a marriage doesn’t work out, but a court must have at least one reason to end the marriage through a divorce. In addition to several other reasons for divorce, Georgia law allows a couple to divorce because one spouse is a habitual drug addict as defined in Georgia law.

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Grounds for a divorce are the reasons or basis for that divorce, and every divorce requires some type of grounds. Exact grounds vary between states with some states offering only one option and other states offering many. Georgia offers 13 grounds, and a divorcing couple can use any ground that fits their situation. No-fault grounds do not require either spouse to prove the other was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Fault grounds, available in many states, require one spouse to prove the other committed some kind of marital misconduct, such as adultery.

Georgia Grounds

Georgia has a longer list of grounds than many states. Georgia’s no-fault ground is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Habitual drug addiction is one of Georgia’s fault grounds, along with other grounds like desertion, cruel treatment, habitual intoxication and adultery. If a spouse wishes to divorce in Georgia based on his spouse’s habitual drug addiction, he must be able to prove the addiction to the divorce court.

Habitual Drug Addiction

Habitual drug addiction has a very specific definition in Georgia. It means the addicted spouse must be addicted to one of the controlled substances listed in Georgia law. These substances include a long list of chemical names for opiates and hallucinogenic substances, such as morphine and amphetamines. If a spouse is addicted to a drug that is not on this list, the addiction cannot be grounds for a divorce, but the spouses could file for divorce based on Georgia’s no-fault grounds. The filing spouse must be able to prove that the other spouse has a habitual drug addiction. This proof may include evidence, such as an arrest record for drug-related crimes, a record of treatment for drug-related illnesses or testimony from witnesses who have seen the addicted spouse doing drugs or on drugs. At the filing spouse's request, the divorce court could even order the addicted spouse to undergo drug testing.

Impact of Misconduct

Marital fault or misconduct, such as drug addiction, can affect a Georgia court’s decisions regarding the terms of a divorce such as property division, alimony and custody. If spouses do not settle their differences and divorce by agreement, the case must go to trial. At trial, the court will consider spousal misconduct, and the misbehaving spouse may receive less property or time with the children than he otherwise would have received.