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How addiction can affect family court

A great many people live online, from making digital bank transactions to updating social media. And while technology and the Internet have led to incredible advances in our society, there is a darker side.

Digital addiction is a growing and troubling issue for millions. It can destroy human relationships. For instance, a recent study out of the UK reports there has been an increase in family court petitions citing the online game "Fortnite" as a basis for divorce.

Tens of millions of people play Fortnite, an online game where players collect resources in an effort to stay alive for as long as possible. And while plenty of participants do not hurtle into a divorce because of their playing, hundreds do.

Addiction in any form, including video game addiction, can affect the divorce process in many ways. 

  • It could affect marital assets. People who struggle with addiction may spend huge sums of money to support their habit. They might deplete their savings or sell valuable property. That can have a real impact on your usual right to an equal division of your shared property. See ARS 25-318(C). As such, it is crucial to take steps to freeze spending from shared funds during a divorce, and itemize and value assets as quickly as possible. There are legal processes, such as Arizona Family Law Rule 48, that can help protect financial accounts in an emergency.
  • Child custody could be a concern. If a parent is addicted to a video game, alcohol, or dangerous behaviors, it may not be safe or in a child's best interest to spend a lot of unsupervised time with that parent. This can lead to contentious custody battles and solutions that parents may not like.
  • It can affect the dispute resolution process. Some types of addiction can make people unreliable, erratic, or unreasonable. And spouses may no longer trust someone who lied or cheated during their marriage to support the addiction. In these cases, options like mediation may not be successful, which can make it more likely a divorcing couple will wind up in court.

If addiction is a factor in your divorce, legal guidance can crucial in helping you navigate the system. You might also consider consulting counselors, custody specialists, and financial professionals to help you pursue fair, appropriate solutions in light of an addiction.

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