No matter the circumstances surrounding the end of a marriage, separating is often difficult, and tensions and emotions usually run high. When allegations of alcohol use arise, it can be particularly challenging to differentiate truth and hearsay without concrete evidence.
Angela Soper is a Relational Life Therapist at Soper Counseling and is specially trained in collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce, the separating couple mutually agrees on a friendly, private split involving an attorney, a neutral financial expert, and mental health professional to facilitate a smooth and amicable divorce. Angela works with both parties in the divorce, and she often sees cases where one party is accused of alcohol abuse. She is committed to assisting both parties to ensure they create the best possible solution, regardless of the claim’s validity.
Protecting Both Parties Involved in the Divorce
Acting as a nonpartisan member while keeping everyone at ease, Soper’s role as a neutral Mental Health Professional is not simple. She strives to facilitate a harmonious divorce and provide her clients with the tools they need to have peace of mind, especially when alcohol is suspected to be involved. When one party is accused of alcohol abuse, she asks that the person blamed or struggling with excessive consumption to refrain from drinking, particularly around the children. This can be effective, but without court-admissible evidence, “people are left feeling either falsely accused or…worried. People leave feeling kind of uncomfortable, like there’s nothing they can land on.” Soper says. Incorporating a remote alcohol monitoring system, such as Soberlink, can prove an individual’s sobriety. Soberlink consists of a remote alcohol testing device and Advanced Reporting that uses Bluetooth technology to document sobriety and deliver results in real-time. Soper likes Soberlink because “agreeing to it takes everyone’s hands off the wheel. Soberlink ends up being the neutral party in the divorce process.”
Angela Soper has found that one key to a peaceful divorce is for each party to be generous during co-parenting. Soper looks at this attitude as a “spirit of generosity” and reiterates that Soberlink alcohol monitoring gives peace of mind to the Concerned Party afraid their children are in an unsafe parenting environment. Oppositely, Soberlink can help the accused co-parent feel empowered when they “see all of those green checkmarks indicating compliant tests.” Soper notes that trust is often earned over time in custody and alcohol cases, and Soberlink helps Concerned Parties relax and feel a renewed sense of safety knowing that their ex-spouse is demonstrating accountability, and alcohol is not being consumed around their children. “It’s about being able to be generous to the Co-Parent--give them a little bit of what they want and then negotiate it,” she says.
When one parent believes that the other is abusing alcohol--whether or not that claim is legitimate—children’s safety becomes the primary concern. Soper works to find a resolution that is agreed upon by both parties. Still, when alcohol abuse accusations arise, and children are involved, it can become more difficult to find agreeable terms without concrete evidence of sobriety. The biggest issue Soper sees is a parent hesitant to leave the child with the other, also noting that “some people choose to stay in a marriage because of that—they are nervous about leaving the children with their partner.”
Soper believes that Soberlink alcohol monitoring protects the children involved in a divorce and helps deter situations where children step into the role of emotional or physical parentification. When a child is “monitoring a parent, it’s not their job. [Their job] is to be a child, be taken care of, and be able to visit family members.” Soper says. Parents often don’t realize when their children are taking on an authoritative role, but the emotional damage and absence of trust can last years in that child’s life--well into adulthood. In addition, children are often aware of the tensions between parents. Kids of divorced or divorcing parents can sometimes feel a torn sense of loyalty, obligated to side with one parent or the other. Soper says that alcohol monitoring gives peace of mind to both parents but also can “allow the children to feel like they don’t have to take sides or be an investigator or judge. [That] frees them up to just be kids around their parents.”
Using Soberlink to Empower the Family
“Soberlink is a tool that we can use to help both people have a modicum of comfort,” Soper says. Combining adaptive facial recognition, tamper detection, and Advanced Reporting capabilities, Soberlink’s remote technology makes it convenient to use and easy to transmit test results and fosters a safer parenting environment. In addition, it easily documents sobriety in real-time and provides peace of mind to the entire family.
Soper believes that “if you can [divorce] in a way that spares the children and creates appropriate safeguards for [the kids] and the couple, then it’s a better solution.”