Drinking Habits and Divorce

Posted by Josh Valentine | Jan 03, 2020

Drinking alcohol is not uncommon for married couples. While some couples drink regularly, others abstain from drinking any alcohol at all. Alcohol use can impact marital satisfaction and divorce rates. According to a study by researchers at the University of Buffalo, when one partner drinks heavily and the other partner does not, there is a higher rate of divorce. 

If you have any questions about filing for divorce in North Carolina, contact Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC, for a consultation. 

Alcohol Use Among Married Couples

According to the study, about half of all couples drink alcohol regularly, defined as at least once per month. This is similar to the general statistics on alcohol consumption, where a 2015 survey found 56% of adults surveyed reported drinking in the past month.

About a quarter do not drink regularly. While about half of all couples drink regularly, only about 4% of couples have both partners who drink heavily, defined as 14 or more drinks per week for men and 10 drinks or more for women. 

About 5% of couples reported a heavy drinking wife and a husband who did not drink heavily, compared to 12% of couples with a heavy drinking husband and a wife who does not drink heavily. 

Alcohol Use and Divorce

Heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are contributing factors in divorce. Especially when one spouse is a heavy drinker and the other is not, a couple is more likely to report lower marital satisfaction. Alcohol use can also be a factor in domestic violence. 

Substance abuse, including alcohol use, is among the most common reasons for seeking a divorce. This can include long-term issues with alcohol or citing a “final straw” incident as the reason the petitioning spouse moved out or filed for divorce. For example, a drunk driving arrest or domestic violence while drunk may be the event that pushes one spouse to file for a divorce.

While alcohol use can be a contributing factor in divorce, divorce may also be a factor in increased alcohol consumption. A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found divorced individuals drink more and are more likely to binge drink than married people. Divorced individuals may also be more likely to have alcohol use disorders. 

Differences in Drinking Habits

A significant factor in divorce depends on whether the couple has similar or different drinking habits. Couples, where both spouses are heavy drinkers, are less likely to divorce than couples where only one spouse drinks heavily. Couples where both spouses have an alcohol use disorder also report more positive interactions and higher marital satisfaction than couples where only one spouse is an alcoholic.

Over a period of nine years, surveyed couples had a 50% chance of getting a divorce when only one spouse was a heavy drinker compared to a 30% chance of getting a divorce when the couple had similar drinking habits. The lower rate of divorce was similar for couples where both spouses were heavy drinkers as for couples where neither spouse was a heavy drinker. 

North Carolina Divorce Attorneys

At Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC, we have helped spouses protect their rights and interests in a North Carolina divorceContact us today in Shelby for a consultation.

About the Author

Josh Valentine

You could say Josh has a God-given ability for sustaining long-term relationships. He and his wife first met in elementary school and went to Gardner Webb University (GWU) together, where they tied for number 1 in their class. Then, they both started law school on the same day of their graduation and got married during their first semester. He has also known his law partner Blake Caulder since Kindergarten. Theirs is the perfect partnership. “He’s the brake; I am the accelerator,” Josh says. Both Josh and his wife attended an innovative program at Charlotte Law School that allowed them to complete law school in two years instead of the typical three. His wife graduated and passed the North Carolina bar at age 20, becoming one of the youngest attorneys in the state. He readily admits she’s smarter than him. Of course, Josh went on to pass the North Carolina State Bar himself and later the South Carolina State Bar. While in school, he was Associate Editor of the Law Review and received accolades like Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society membership, Order of the Crown, Pro Bono Honors, CALI Awards (highest grade). In his career as a lawyer, he has been admitted to the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, is a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, and completed training for DWI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Josh has also been named to the Top 40 Under 40 for Criminal Defense by The National Trial Lawyers, the Business North Carolina 2019 Legal Elite for Criminal Defense, and the 10 Best Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys three years in a row (2016, 2017, and 2018). Community involvement has been important to Josh all his life. In high school, he participated in building a Holocaust museum that has become internationally regarded. He and his wife are actively engaged in animal rescue, which currently means seven cats and two kittens. He served in prison ministry and assisted with fundraiser banquets there, and he provides pro bono and reduced fee legal services to those in need. As if all of that weren’t enough, Josh also mentors high risk youth and helps with his church’s youth group. He participates in other community volunteer projects involving construction, remodeling, drywall, painting, and landscaping. He’s an active student of the Bible and has traveled to Israel, Brazil, and Europe for mission work. No one can say Josh isn’t a well-rounded individual. In his spare time, he likes to play softball, basketball, and tennis, and he can play the piano and trombone. Sometimes on weekends, believe it or not, he enjoys pouring and finishing concrete with friends who own a concrete and grading business. In his law practice, Josh has made it a point to develop positive relationships with officers, clerks, and district attorneys, which has proven invaluable in delivering positive results for his clients. It’s important to him to both listen to his clients and fight for them. Law enforcement officers have important responsibilities to keep our communities safe and uphold the law, but one of the responsibilities of attorneys is to make sure officers do their job correctly. Josh considers it his job to hold them accountable for their actions. Josh is a person of deep faith. He knows that the established order of our universe and strength of America’s Judeo-Christian influenced court system is built on God’s word. His passion to serve each client with innovation, excellence and integrity is a byproduct of his faith. When asked why he became a lawyer, Josh says, “All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person who was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer. So that’s why I became an attorney. I understand what you are going through, and I’m here to help you. Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life.” Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar