Suspicion of infidelity is one of the first steps toward a broken marriage. But what if your spouse's transgressions are not with another person, but with alcohol or drugs? Loss of love and trust through substance abuse can ruin a marriage as quickly as an affair. This is true whether you live in Montgomery, Hoover, Gadsden or Muscle Shoals.

As a Birmingham divorce lawyer and family law attorney, I've seen many different scenarios leading to marital disharmony — infidelity, inappropriate sexual behavior, financial irresponsibility, alcoholism and drug abuse, just to name a few.

More than once I have been asked whether or not one or all of these problems is grounds for divorce. When it comes to drug abuse by one of the partners in a marriage, I find that occasionally the spouse who is concerned about his or her partner's addiction may want to have that individual tested for drugs. The question is whether this is a legitimate or practical request.

Simply put, if a spouse in a divorce action is interested in having the offending partner tested for illicit or prescription drugs, that party may file a motion with the court requesting testing. At this point, the judge presiding over the divorce case will make a decision as to whether or not that motion will be granted.

In Alabama, if custody of a child or children is an issue, as well as cases involving visitation rights, the judge will usually grant a motion. Typically, there must be some basis or reason for suspecting substance abuse on the part of a spouse. If the court is convinced of that there is merit to the request, then the motion for drug testing will likely be granted.

Divorce cases can be very contentious. Because of this, it's not uncommon to have the other party respond to the drug testing with a motion of their own for the same or similar testing. In such instances, the judge will usually order both parties in the divorce to be tested. One caveat: Don't be too sure that you will pass a similar test. It has been known for the spouse who initiated the testing to test positive for some substance that could negatively impact your side of the divorce action.

Depending on the jurisdiction, a court may require hair follicle testing, which is reportedly more accurate than other methods and also provides results that date back farther in time. Frankly speaking, anyone who uses drugs is likely not fit to raise childrenin the first place, which means that if you want custody of your kids, do not use drugs. The courts are not very sympathetic when substance abuse is indicated by one or the other spouse.