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What is “Drunkenness” for Divorce?

There is not much case law on what it takes to get a divorce on “habitual drunkenness,” so the recent case of Lee v Lee, No. 2013-CA-00609-COA (11/25/14) is instructive. The court quoted the following standard:

“A court may grant a divorce on the ground of habitual drunkenness if the plaintiff proves that: (1) the defendant frequently abused alcohol; (2) the alcohol abuse negatively affected the marriage; and (3) the alcohol abuse continued at the time of the trial.” Turner v. Turner,73 So. 3d 576, 583 (Miss. Ct. App. 2011).

The court cited to a case where it was shown the defendant drank a case of beer each night. Another case found that drinking 4 or 5 beers a night did not constitute drunkenness.

In Lee, the proof was that:

  • Chris drank 5 to six beers a day, which he denied
  • Chris made negative and insulting comments while drunk
  • Chris peed on her leg one night, which he denied
  • Chris passed out a couple of times

The court affirmed the trial court decision to grant a divorce on drunkenness. Lawyers are typically looking for DUI’s, loss of job, and other proof, so this case might prove scary to the average drinker.

A clear “out” seems to be quitting before trial.