Two of my best friends are going through a rather complicated divorce. They were married 12 years and reside in Illinois. Wife was a stay at home mom and has not had a job in 6 years and when she was employed, it was part time in retail. She quit college and has never had a full time job. He finished a college degree while they were married and has a good job with excellent benefits. Husband filed for divorce and is seeking full custody of the kids.

Wife had suffered from depression for years and began drinking heavily to self-medicate. She is an alcoholic, but both husband and wife refused to acknowledge this and get her help. She drove the kids to school while still intoxicated and admitted it to the husband afterwards. He made her promise she wouldn't put the kids in danger again, but did not ask her to seek help for her alcohol problem as he insisted that the real problem was the depression. I personally think that the husband is also an alcoholic, but he is a high functioning alcoholic and I think he may not have wanted her to seek treatment because he would have had to change his habits. That being said, he has never, that I know of, put his children in danger due to his drinking. There is also no documented evidence that he has a problem with alcohol.

About a year after the drunk driving incident she went on a multiday bender and didn't pick the kids up from school. The cops ended up bringing them home. At that point the husband called the wife's parent to remove her from the house since she refused to stop drinking and sober up. The parent ended up calling the paramedics and she was admitted to the hospital with a blood alcohol level of 3.8 and put on suicide watch. She went through detox and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. While there she was diagnosed with Bipolar II. It turns out that she was treated for years with the wrong diagnosis and the drug therapy used to treat depression made her bipolar symptoms worse. She has since joined AA and is trying to find a drug and therapy regiment to handle her illness. From the time that her husband kicked her out till now has been about 3 months.

He decided to file for divorce last week and is seeking full custody of the kids. He said his lawyer told him that he won't have to pay her alimony because he is fighting for full custody and the child support she would owe him will cancel out any alimony he may owe her.

I disagree and think that he does owe her support. There is also the issue of health insurance. Once the divorce goes through she will lose her insurance since it is provided through his employer.

They need to settle as much of this as possible without lawyers. While the husband has a good job (40-50k) they want to avoid high legal bills. There is about 20k equity in the house. He has student loan debt. Savings are negligible. He has offered her one of the cars and whatever she wants from the contents of the house (contents have little monetary value).

If she decides to get a lawyer, can she get him to pay for it? She doesn't have the financial resources to hire her own lawyer.

Also is there a way to allow the husband temporary full custody? She is still trying to get her bipolar under control and she broke her sobriety once during the 3 months they have been separated. She is still struggling with staying sober. I think that she can acknowledge that she isn't a fit parent at the moment, but if she can get her life together, she deserves joint custody. Is this something that can be written into the settlement?

Any feedback that can be offered would be appreciated.