Focus Group: Alcohol Abuse

WILL YOU ACT AS MY FOCUS GROUP? I’m talking about alcohol abuse here!

As you may know, there is something called a focus group. This is a group where people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a particular matter. I would like the readers of this blog to act as my focus group as I really want to know your opinion(s) about something. Here are some of the facts:

Fact 1. I want you to focus on the concept of abusing an adult spouse. The law frequently provides that any treatment of a vulnerable adult (such as an adult spouse) which places life, health, or welfare in jeopardy or which is likely to result in impairment of health is abuse.

Question 1. Using this definition of abuse, if one spouse likes to drink and the other can’t tolerate it (because they are an alcoholic and have fought to remain sober for years), is it abuse for one spouse to drink heavily in front of the other; to bring beer/booze into the house on a frequent basis; and to have drinking parties at the house, in front of the “sober” spouse?

Fact 2. Let’s assume that the sober spouse is sick of what’s going on, so they send No Trespassing letters to the people the “drinking spouse” has come over to drink. The drinking spouse then goes to the State Police and the State Police say: “Disregard the no trespassing order. The house is as much yours as it is the non-drinking spouse. If your friends come over to drink it’s okay. We don’t intend to enforce the no trespassing order as we can’t favor one homeowner over the other.”

Question 2. Does the Trooper make a good point? If two people own the home and only one person wants to keep the drinking buddies away, is the non-drinking spouse without a proper remedy? What do you think of this situation?

Fact 3. I want you to assume that the non-drinking spouse is laden with worry. Because of this worry, he has lost 30 pounds. He appears anxious all of the time and his life is upside down. He may be edgy enough to grab a Bud after 24 years of continuous sobriety.

Question 3. If you were the judge in a case like this, would you order that the non-drinking spouse can have exclusive, temporary use of the house during the pendency of the parties’ divorce? No matter which way you feel, I’m interested in why you feel that way.

If people actively participate in this amateur focus group, I will share the results in a later blog entry. I’ll also share with you what the court did as these facts are real and they are playing out in “real time.”

R. Peter Decato, Decato Law Firm