Can Marijuana Use Affect Divorce Proceedings When In Court?

Marijuana is on its way to legalization; no one can argue with that fact. Dozens of states have already legalized the drug for medical use, while others are moving directly to recreational legalization. But in states where marijuana is still an illegal drug, many spouses are asking themselves if smoking could impact an upcoming court case related to their divorce. And unfortunately the answer is yes.

An uncontested divorce lawyer named Aaron Reynolds commented on the reality of illegal drug use for married couples who are separated. “Most people don’t really think about the consequences — even a joint or two can have a direct impact on a person’s ability to find an equitable solution to divorce,” Reynolds said. “In states where the substance is illegal, the court treats it that way. A spouse can use it against you. Seeking an uncontested divorce is the best way out of this, but they aren’t available to just anyone.”

Marijuana is especially damaging for parents seeking shared custody of children. The court will be extremely hesitant to award custody to a person who is knowingly breaking the law, especially since a number of publications continue to openly assert that marijuana is a gateway drug (which is an assertion long since debunked, but that doesn’t seem to matter).

Judges will claim that marijuana use leads to impaired judgement, memory loss, and reduced reaction time, all of which might affect a person’s ability to safely care for kids. Second hand smoke is especially dangerous in the eyes of the law, and no one wants children exposed to drugs. Regardless of whether or not these claims have any merit (most of them don’t in a society where everyone and their brother still cracks open a beer in front of the kids), a spouse who doesn’t smoke will always have an edge over one who does.

Additionally, married couples hold communal property. Often, the finances included in that communal property go to the purchase of any marijuana used by one spouse, and then the other spouse can use that fact to influence the court’s decisions regarding the distribution of property. 

If a spouse smokes marijuana but knows a court date is coming up, it’s time to stop. Without proof, the court can’t render judgement in favor of one person over another. In most cases an immediate court-ordered drug test will be rendered when a party accuses the other of using marijuana. These tests are accurate for a period of about 90 days.