Divorce is a stressful time for everyone. You go through many major life changes – you may be moving out of your house, divvying up your possessions, dealing with a slew of emotions, and trying to find time to see your kids while juggling your many obligations in life. We don’t all deal with the stress in the best way. Maybe you have a night off from the kids and you want to let off some steam from this divorce at the local bar. That’s got to be harmless, right?
A common issue in divorce cases that family law attorneys know all too well is the dreaded “divorce DUI.” In Wisconsin, a person can receive a “driving under the influence” (DUI) or “operating while intoxicated” (OWI) charge if they have been found to be driving while using alcohol or other drugs. Sometimes people going through divorce may cope with the process by drinking and find themselves criminally charged with driving under the influence or alcohol or substances, which can have severe consequences on their divorce case.
Importantly, any DUIs or OWIs received by an individual in a divorce case will be brought up during child custody and placement negotiations and litigation. Specifically, two of the factors that a court looks at in determining custody and placement are: (1) whether any of the parties have a criminal record; and (2) whether either party has or had a significant problem with alcohol or drug abuse. A DUI/OWI raises issues with both of these factors.
If you do receive a DUI/OWI during your divorce, that does not necessarily mean you will lose all placement time with your kids. The court will balance a variety of factors and look at the severity of your charge, as well as the actions you have taken to recover from that event. The court or your attorney will likely recommend that you engage in alcohol monitoring or testing, and may even suggest that you complete an AODA assessment or therapy to show that you are actively handling your drinking behavior.
Receiving a DUI/OWI during a divorce can also lead to additional financial stress, such as court penalties, fees, attorney fees, and any damages incurred by the DUI/OWI. You may also deal with the stress of attending additional court hearings, simultaneously handling separate family and criminal cases, and damaging family relationships.
Divorce is a hard time and “divorce DUIs” are far too common. Reach out to family and loved ones for support and remember that you are not alone during this time. Counseling and support groups can help tremendously. An experienced family law attorney can help navigate this occurrence and best help rehabilitate the consequences of a divorce DUI/OWI to protect you during your pending family law matter.
We’re also here to help! Call our offices at (414) 258-1644 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach LLC.