Addictions can destabilize and end a marriage. Gambling is an often-overlooked addiction that can devastate a marriage, run through a family’s finances, and complicate property division, especially in a high net worth divorce. There are several financial precautions that are needed to protect your finances if your spouse has a gambling addiction.
Documents and other evidence are important to determine the extent of this problem and are necessary if there is ever a divorce. Collect financial information that starts as early in your relationship as possible, especially when the gambling problem started. Information should include bank, retirement, mortgage, and credit card statements. Tax returns and 529 accounts are also important.
Analyze these documents and look for unrecognizable changes, withdrawals, or loans from financial accounts. Determine whether there is a sudden lack of money even though you are both earning ample funds to pay bills and save. Calmly discuss unusual changes and shortfalls.
If you are still considering divorce, you may enter a postnuptial agreement that sets forth and divides your assets and income in a divorce or if one of you dies. These agreements, signed after marriage, can protect assets and future income by separating your finances and end joint accounts, credit cards and income pooling.
It may also have terms allowing the recovery of an equitable potion of money spent on gambling. It should also cover tax matters because a gambling spouse may have lost money that was needed for taxes.
It can take at least months and even years from the filing for divorce and the final settlement. During this time, it is important to maintain your present circumstances and protect assets and income if a spouse has a gambling addiction or other spending control problem.
Accounting for the material waste from this addiction is also essential for the equitable distribution of assets. Both spouses should fully disclose their expenses and finances so that child support, property division and spousal support can be determined.
It may be necessary to file a summons with notice setting a date to value assets and liabilities and seeking to end the spending down of marital assets. A letter can be issued notifying the gambling spouse that spending from a joint account must end at a certain date and expenses should be capped at an agreed-upon amount.