Can Marijuana Use Affect a Divorce Case?
With the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado, there has been increased research into the effects of the drug – including its effects on marriage. If your spouse uses too much marijuana you may wonder, Is smoking pot grounds for divorce? If you are concerned about your use of marijuana during your marriage that is soon to end, you may wonder, Can marijuana use affect a divorce case? In short, the answer to both questions is yes. Now, you need to understand why and how.
Does Marijuana Use Impact Divorce?
While a number of studies focus upon the physical health effects of marijuana use, some academic studies explore how the use of marijuana (colloquially known as “pot” or “weed”) impacts relationships. This information helps us understand how use of pot can impact a marriage, and how that same use of marijuana can affect a divorce case.
The passage of Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution in 2012 went into effect in 2014. From that point forward, the use of pot in Colorado increased significantly. Since legalization, adult marijuana use increased by 94 percent and is more common in Colorado than in most states. It is 96 percent higher than the national average. Many of these pot smokers are married, and many married pot smokers have children. So, when a spouse smokes weed and the other spouse wants to get a divorce because of that, the pot user may face some challenges.
“My Husband Smokes Too Much Weed”
Have you heard this before? Or perhaps you feel this way? Not all pot smokers are seen as a problem to their spouses, but overuse can be . . . even when it’s legal.
The social stigma around smoking weed remains, even in one of the first states to legalize recreational use of pot. And that stigma may influence the court’s decisions regarding details of your divorce.
If you smoke pot – or vape, or ingest edibles -- and fear how your spouse will use it against you in a divorce, that concern may be valid, especially if you have children.
What About Your Reputation?
If you’re a pot smoker, you might also worry about the airing of dirty laundry. During the process of your divorce, others may learn of the accusation that “my husband smokes too much weed” and suspect it is what led your spouse to seek divorce. You might be worried it will affect not only your community standing, but also your professional life. When such accusations become public, it can cause you great harm, even when your smoking weed didn’t break any laws.
Do you have legal options to protect your reputation? You might. Among them is the possibility that you might be able to suppress your divorce records. Consulting with an experienced divorce lawyer to strategize about that path will help you understand your options.
Is Smoking Pot Grounds for Divorce?
Are You a Pot Smoker? Does Your Spouse Smoke Too Much Weed?
Is smoking pot grounds for divorce? It can be, yes. When a spouse smokes pot heavily, it may create problems in a marriage which can become so significant that the marriage is no longer sustainable. If your spouse uses marijuana heavily, you may wonder, can I get a divorce because of smoking weed? Perhaps you feel that because your spouse won’t stop smoking weed, you are ready to leave. If so, you can end your marriage. Legally, Colorado is a no-fault state which means if a marriage is “irretrievably broken” you may get a divorce (C.R.S. §14-10-106). If use of marijuana strongly affects your relationship, you may simply be incompatible.
Choosing to divorce is a no small decision. Even an amicable divorce can upend your life. But if your spouse simply won’t stop smoking weed and you’ve made clear that’s what you need for the marriage to continue, then it may be time to act. You may need to talk to a divorce attorney to learn your legal options and how to begin the divorce process.
If you are a spouse who uses pot regularly, and perhaps heavily, don’t be surprised that your use of marijuana can lead to divorce. It can also have an impact on various elements of your divorce proceedings. It can affect child custody, visitation (called “parenting time” in Colorado), child support and division of assets.
Even medical marijuana use can hurt the outcome of a divorce proceeding for you.
How Do You Prove Your Spouse Smokes Weed?
Whether or not your smoking pot impacts the health of your relationship has little legal bearing in a no-fault state. But it can have an important impact on the other elements of a divorce, whether they are related to your children or your assets. If you want to prove that your spouse’s pot smoking is a cause of your divorce, you can tell the court that your spouse is a pothead (maybe not in those words), and a judge may choose to require a drug test. This could happen during the same court session.
The test to discover physical evidence of pot in a person’s system typically stretches back 90 days and may use hair follicles or nails in that test. So, if you use pot and recently realized it may impact your divorce, it may be too late to stop smoking weed.
Smoking Pot Can Also Impact a Child Custody Case
If You Use Marijuana, It Can Hurt the Amount of Time You Have with Your Children
Just because pot is legal in Colorado, this doesn’t mean it can’t impact your ability to parent – just like alcohol. Limiting your use of pot doesn’t necessarily limit your spouse’s legal ability to prove you are a “bad” parent. While Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, to have equal custody (known as “parental responsibilities” in Colorado), you may need to show you are just as suitable as a parent to your children as your spouse is. Under Colorado law, possessing or consuming a controlled substance when your kids are around is seen as neglect, and perhaps even abuse, depending on the behavior associated with smoking weed (C.R.S. § 14-10-124 (4)(e)(V)).
Heavy pot use can lead to impaired judgment and, concerning the case of small children, a slower reaction time. For example, if you drive while high on pot and your children are in the car, that can really hurt your ability to show you can be a trusted, healthy and safe parent to your children. In addition, if you smoke weed near your children, they may suffer harm from exposure to the smoke. Even if you vape marijuana, the court can still see you as a danger to your children’s well-being.
Smoking Pot Can Impact Distribution of Assets in a Divorce
There is more to consider about how marijuana use can impact your divorce. It can affect how a court orders that assets get distributed in the divorce. Did you buy pot often? Was your habit of smoking weed a factor in your divorce? Using significant marital assets to buy marijuana can be seen as a “dissipation of assets” and may give your spouse leverage to ask for more marital property in a divorce settlement.
When you have a lot of net worth, the stakes are even higher. Proof of how property should be divided in a high asset divorce may require significant planning. If you’re worried that smoking weed may influence the division of assets in your divorce, be sure to secure skilled legal counsel who can develop a strategy to protect your interests. However, because Colorado is a no-fault state, it is possible also that a judge will not allow that any fault, like being high most of the time on weed, has a role in decisions about a division of property.
No Matter Which Side of the Fence You’re On, You Need Help
How a judge rules in a divorce case when a spouse smokes pot will be influenced by a number of factors. How and what information is provided to the court also affects the outcome of a divorce proceeding. That’s why you need to get ahead of the game.
Be sure you hire a skilled divorce attorney who can strategize how best to either present your case that your spouse smokes too much weed or to defend you if you use marijuana.
Call on our team at The Cossitt Law Firm for help at 970-488-1887. You can count on our experience to be your best asset when marijuana use may affect your divorce case.