Dear Carolyn,

My spouse is using both prescription opioids (Percocet) and alcohol. I do not think he has a prescription for the Percocet, and there are lots of cash withdrawals from our bank account. I am suspicious he is buying on the street, but where? And how? He had back surgery three years ago and I know he was using Percocet about six months. I don’t think his doctor is giving him Percocet anymore, as the health insurance is mine, and I don’t see it coming through.

I think he tried to get off the opiates once, but apparently he has been unsuccessful, and he is using again.

Our kids know it.

I want him to get help, but he will not be honest with me about what he is doing. He hides.

Otherwise, if he will not get help, I need a divorce. He supports the children and me. I work as a nurse, but he has a much higher paying job.


Carolyn Answers …

Remember, addicts lie. It is the nature of an addict to lie. Manipulation is part of the disease. You need to come to grips with this principle. Addicts lie and manipulate. He does not recognize that you have his best interests at heart.

The need for drugs/alcohol is overwhelming, and when the need for drugs arises that need is more important to the addict than love, truth and honor. The drugs also shut down the user’s ability to be analytical. As soon as the drug kicks in, the addict has a lowered capacity for objective thought and decisions.

A sober alcoholic can be determined to use his money wisely, but after a single drink, all rational decision-making may be out the window.

I am concerned about the missing money, and for your protection. You need to put back some savings, maybe for as much as six months living expenses and enough to retain an attorney.

I would tell your husband that you are concerned about him and want him in treatment.

You also might want to have a consultation with both an addiction counselor or go to Al-Anon, a group for coping with addicted spouses.

I also suggest you discuss your situation with a divorce attorney, if you want to know how to document your case in the event you do decide that separation is the only option.

Alcoholism and drug addiction are factors for the court’s consideration in an alimony case, particularly with regard to the duration and amount of alimony. Since your spouse is going to lie, you need proof.

In your consultation with the attorney, establish a game plan to develop evidence should you need it. I wish you much success in dealing with a virtually impossible situation.


Dear Carolyn,

I have been separated for five years. I own part of a family business. I have been just giving my ex and kids money. We both have lawyers, but there has been virtually no legal activity. I am getting fairly close to retirement, and I’d like to get the property division done and sell my business. My two brothers are in the business also. All three of us inherited the business from our father, who started it. It is possible that a couple of my nephews may be interested in coming into the business, and one of them has an MBA from Carolina. He is in the business and doing well. But, he is still young.

What are the divorce ramifications of this business?


Carolyn Answers …

It is wise of you to think about these issues and plan. From a divorce point of view, your ex-wife will be entitled to 50 percent of the active appreciation of the business during your marriage, if I understand your facts correctly. You inherited the stock of the business, I assume, so that is your separate property. You, however, have been working in the business, and that growth you have essentially caused is marital.

The active appreciation has to be valued by a valuation expert in the divorce case. Each of you can have a separate expert and have the battle of the experts, or you can have a joint expert to render one opinion. There are pros and cons to both strategies you should discuss with your divorce lawyer.

Valuing a business has a lot of precise principles, but valuing active appreciation is a bit artful. The National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts (NACVA) lists valuators in this area. Pick one and have a chat with the expert. That will give you insight into the process of the review by an expert in the business and the valuation process.


Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to Ask Carolyn at or PO Box 9023, Greensboro, NC 27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions. Note that the answers in Ask Carolyn are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by Ask Carolyn. Ask Carolyn ia a regular column, but not necessarily weekly.