GROSS AND CONFIRMED HABITS OF INTOXICATION
The Divorce grounds of Gross and Confirmed Habits of Intoxication are commonly utilized in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In order to have a divorce adjusdged on the basis of Gross and Confirmed Habits of Intoxication there must be an excessive use of the intoxicant that becomes habitual and the conduct must continue up to the time of the filing of the complaint. Hammond v. Hammond, 240 Mass. 1882, 184, 132 N.E. 724, 725 (1921). The mere use of drugs or alcohol is not sufficient. Jasper v. Jasper, 333 Mass. 223, 226, 129 N.E. 2d 887, 889 (1955); Burt v. Burt, 168 Mass. 204, 208, 46 N.E. 622, 624 (1897).
In todays society, drug and alcohol abuse are far too common and often lead to the breakup of marriages. However, careful thought must be given to asserting these grounds when the alocoholic or addict will be relied upon for support. The Probate Courts are as ineffective at addressing these problems as any other institution and it becomes more difficult for the court to aggressively require job searches, employment and support payments when the the party in question is openly labeled as an active alcoholic or drug addict.
It is also important to carefully consider utilizing these grounds when child custody or visitation will be in issue. The best interests of the child(ren) must be paramount. These types of issues usually don't go away and the courts are filled with cases of parents who are constantly shiftting between periods of sobriety and nonsobriety. This may lead to continuous and repeated litigation as the court orders various forms of drug and alcohol testing and regularly modifies it's custody and visitation orders in the best interests of the child(ren).
Generally, the court will alternately loosen the terms of vistation as the party in question experiences longer periods of sobriety and tighten them back up when the party falls off the wagon.
Lastly, as in other fault based grounds, it is usually wise to plead an irretrievable breakdown as an alternate grounds for divorce just in case it is not possible to prove these grounds to the satisfaction of the court.