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July 15, 2022

How to Prove Habitual Drunkenness in SC

Habitual Drunkenness Meaning

Established law defines habitual drunkenness as “frequent and repeated intoxication by excessive indulgence in intoxicating liquor.” Problem drinkers tend to binge drink whenever the opportunity or desire presents itself. Habitual drunkenness involves patterns of frequently getting drunk, not being continually intoxicated. In other words, your spouse does not have to be drunk daily to be a problem drinker.

The decision to file for divorce does not come easily. When divorcing your spouse on the grounds of habitual drinking or substance abuse, the proceedings can take many unexpected ups and downs. Though your partner may not see it, substance abuse can make a marriage feel unsalvageable. South Carolina law states that you can get a divorce from your spouse even if they don’t consent. Habitual drinking and drug use are grounds for divorce.

When your choice to get a divorce stems from your partner’s frequent intoxication, you must know how to prove habitual drunkenness in divorce court. Our experienced divorce lawyers at Lauren Taylor Law can help you navigate the murky waters of divorce and gather evidence.


If your spouse is a habitual drinker, it does not necessarily mean they are an alcoholic, though binge drinking can lead to alcoholism. Besides alcohol, other addictive substances include marijuana and prescription or illicit drugs like opioids and cocaine. In all divorce cases involving substance abuse, there must be evidence proving the marriage breakdown is a result of these habits.

How to Prove Alcoholism In a Divorce

Determining how to prove alcoholism in court can seem daunting, especially when you must back up all allegations you make toward your spouse with concrete evidence. To successfully prove habitual drunkenness, you and your attorney must present documentation of your spouse’s alcoholism and its adverse effect on your marriage.

You can use the following items as evidence to prove your spouse has a drinking or drug problem in any divorce court.

  • Direct testimony: Witness testimony can corroborate claims of alcohol and substance abuse. A witness must agree to testify under oath, or the testimony will remain hearsay.
  • Police and accident reports: If your spouse has ever gotten a DUI or caused an accident while driving under the influence, those police or accident reports can be evidence. Additionally, if the police have ever become involved in situations regarding your spouse and public intoxication, domestic disturbances or other citations documenting their use of alcohol, you and your attorney can use those police reports in divorce court.
  • Rehab bills: Rehab bills can prove someone’s ongoing or failed treatment at rehabilitation facilities.
  • Medical records: Medical records documenting your spouse’s treatment for conditions related to excessive drinking or injuries sustained due to physical abuse from a partner under the influence of alcohol are permissible as evidence to prove alcoholism.
  • Court orders in DUI cases: Court orders from past DUI charges can be proof of habitual drunkenness or substance abuse during divorce cases.
  • Video footage: You can use video footage of your spouse under the influence of drugs and alcohol as hard evidence of substance abuse.
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When proving alcoholism in court, your spouse will have the opportunity to refute the evidence presented. When relying on witness testimonies for your case, this can sometimes lead to lengthy and costly court proceedings, as these hearings can turn into a he-said, she-said debate.

What Impacts Can Alcoholism Have on Your Divorce?

When divorcing an alcoholic partner, the impact can reach other critical aspects of the divorce process, like the division of shared assets and child custody negotiations. The presence of substance abuse in a divorce case can influence a court’s decisions regarding custody orders and the property assigned to both parties. The severity of your spouse’s drinking or drug use can significantly impact the outcome of court proceedings.

Proving Alcoholism in a Custody Case

Winning child custody can become more challenging when a parent is a proven alcoholic or suffers from a substance use disorder. In divorce cases involving alcohol or substance abuse, the well-being of your child or children becomes the court’s No. 1 priority. Even if you have proven your spouse has the disease of addiction, a judge could still grant them visitations if they are actively receiving treatment for their substance abuse, staying sober and are not a danger to your child or children.

However, if a judge views a parent’s alcoholism or substance abuse problem as a danger to a child, the court can make specific custody orders. These include:

  • Supervised visitations
  • No overnight visits
  • Regular and random drug and alcohol screenings
  • Mandated therapy or rehabilitation

Judges only consider revoking all child visitation privileges in extreme cases of alcohol and substance abuse, such as those involving domestic violence.

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Asset and Property Division

If there is evidence that your spouse’s alcohol or substance abuse has negatively affected your family’s finances, it can impact the division of assets and property. A judge may award you a more significant portion of assets or property as compensation if you can prove you have experienced financial loss due to your spouse’s substance use disorder. For example, if your spouse is using financial resources to support their habit, like buying excessive amounts of alcohol, you could receive a larger share of assets as compensation.

In some unfortunate cases, there is significant debt instead of assets. The court can order your spouse to take on more debt if the evidence demonstrates the deficit has accumulated due to their alcoholism or substance abuse. For example, if your partner has amassed a significant amount of debt by purchasing alcohol or other addictive substances, a court could order them to repay the full amount after reviewing bank and credit card statements.

Request a Consultation From Lauren Taylor Law

We understand that ending your marriage can be heartbreaking, time-consuming and emotionally taxing. At Lauren Taylor Law, our compassionate, all-female legal team will help you confidently navigate your next steps. You’ll get reliable counsel from an experienced divorce attorney and have someone on your side who can prepare you for what to expect. Call Lauren Taylor Law today at 843-790-9009 to set up a consultation.

How to Prove Habitual Drunkenness in SC
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How to Prove Habitual Drunkenness in SC
Proving your partner's habitual drunkenness in court can feel overwhelming. Read how the experienced divorce attorneys at Lauren Taylor Law can help you today.
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Lauren Taylor Law Firm
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