Getting Divorced When Your Spouse Has a Gambling ProblemEvery married couple remembers the specific vows they took at their wedding. Each spouse vowed to remain by each other’s side until death does them part, through sickness or through health. However, married couples find themselves in situations that threaten to tear their union apart. One spouse could develop a drug addiction. One spouse could engage in domestic violence against the other spouse.

Another serious issue that can cause a married couple to file for divorce is when one spouse develops a gambling addiction. A spouse with a gambling problem is guaranteed to bring turmoil in a marriage. The Franklin divorce attorneys at The Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates discuss gambling and divorce in today’s blog.

Signs that your spouse is suffering from a compulsive gambling

No one wants to admit that their spouse may be struggling, but a gambling addiction affects everyone. The Mayo Clinic lists the following signs of a potential gambling disorder:

  • A constant preoccupation with gambling
  • Needing increased amounts of money in order to achieve the same “high”
  • Failure to curb or control one’s gambling
  • Showing signs of “withdrawal,” such as irritability, when trying to quit or cut back
  • Using gambling to escape from every day problems
  • “Chasing losses,” when he or she gambles more to make back the money he or she lost
  • Lying about the extent of his or her gambling, or losses
  • Failing performance at work or school
  • Stealing
  • Constantly relying on others to “bail them out” financially

How does a spouse’s gambling problem affect a marriage?

There are numerous ways in which a spouse’s gambling affects marriage in a negative way. The spouse with the gambling problem becomes secretive with their partner and may begin to try and hide the intensity of their need to gamble. They may begin to hide other consequences of their gambling from their partners, such as unpaid bills or large amounts of credit card and loan debt.

The constant secrecy and financial strain on the marriage then put the other spouse in an awkward situation (at best). At worst, it can cost them everything: their homes, their jobs, and more.

Why a gambling problem could lead to divorce

Although it is admirable to stick by one’s spouse during a gambling addiction, you and your children will pay the price, too. As much as you want to help your spouse, there cannot be any breakthroughs until your spouse addresses that he or she has a gambling problem. You can provide all the resources and support that you can, but no one can make a person change. The only thing you can do is try to shield yourself and your kids from the fallout.

Actions to take after filing for divorce

One action that former spouses can take when their partner deals with a gambling problem is to separate their finances as much as possible. Open your own bank account, but do NOT transfer any joint funds. This could be perceived as stealing or hiding funds.

If you have the money to pay off any joint credit cards or loans, you can do so. Then, close those accounts. Any new accounts opened by your spouse should be considered separate property, and you could be shielded from any debts your spouse incurs.

You should collect as many documents as possible that prove how negligent your spouse has been in regard to your finances. Gather items such as bank account statements, credit card balances, insurance policies, pay stubs from employment, tax returns, and family expenses. More than anything, get a credit check: you may discover accounts and debts you did not know existed, and you could ed up legally responsible for paying those debts.

Do I need a divorce attorney if my spouse is a gambler?

Legally, you never need to hire an attorney – but in this case, you really should. Gambling wreaks havoc on a couple’s finances, and you could find yourself with no money and no home. Our Franklin divorce attorneys are able to help you protect yourself, your kids, and any remaining assets you have.

One way is by arguing the wasteful dissipation of marital assets. A spouse can be guilty of wasteful dissipation if the spouse has spent your joint assets in a reckless and/or intentional manner. Spending $1,000 in a weekend at a casino is poor judgment, but not wasteful dissipation. Blowing an entire savings or college fund, however, or selling the family car to pay off debts should be. In divorce proceedings, the judge may not categorize the spouse’s spending actions as wasteful dissipation unless the actions included a substantial amount of money.

What are some of the factors that the courts use to consider wasteful dissipation?

A court will consider the intent involved in the commission of the act, any concealment of wasted assets, the joint dissipation of property, the ability of one or both parties to access married assets, whether the spouse who wastefully dissipated assets obtained a profit, and the relationship between the waste and the partners’ financial status. In addition to these types of factors, the court may take into consideration two additional factors: positive conduct and inaction.

The wasteful dissipation argument can be used to deny an irresponsible spouse an unfair share of the marital assets, and to protect the innocent spouse from undue financial burden related to debts.

Being married to a gambler can be difficult; choosing the right divorce attorney for your needs should not be. At The law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we help families find a new way forward, even in the toughest of times. To schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer in Franklin, Brentwood, or Columbia, please call 615-977-9370, or complete our convenient contact form.