Divorcing A Gambling Addict? 5 Tips To Protect Yourself Now

Does your spouse have a gambling problem? Serious gambling addiction issues can cause the irreparable breakdown of a marriage, leaving divorce the only viable option. But what important steps should you take now in order to ensure the least financial loss and stress during the divorce? Here are a few things to do.

1. Separate Your Finances. Separating your finances from your spouse's as early as possible provides two forms of protection. First, they don't have access to or control over your money (your paycheck, for instance) and so less will be lost to their addiction. Second, you have a better chance at protecting current funds from being split with the spouse during divorce if these aren't considered marital assets. 

2. Consider a Legal Separation. Many couples skip the step of legal separation and just handle everything at divorce. But you may want the extra-legal protection offered by a formal separation now. This is particularly important if it will help you establish some of your own earnings as being made and used outside the marital arrangement and not for the marital home. 

3. Document Your Objections. Some states allow judges to distribute marital property in a fair and equitable manner rather than 50/50. This may result in a larger share being granted to a wronged spouse, but that spouse must prove their case. Among other requirements, this means preparing evidence that you did not facilitate or encourage their gambling (which could make you appear less wronged by a court). 

4. Learn About Jurisdiction. During a divorce, many states aim to divide both debts and assets in a fair and equitable way based on what each put into the marriage and their level of responsibility for the breakup. Other states are more strict about the equal division of property. If you can choose a jurisdiction where you're more likely to see compensation for money lost to a gambling habit, this may help your finances. 

5. Track Dissipated Assets. Is your spouse wracking up debts or using family money to fund their gambling? If so, you may have a case to recover 'dissipated assets' that were wasted by the other spouse once the divorce becomes likely. If they clean out your bank account to gamble, for instance, you may be able to make this right during divorce negotiations. Help your own case by tracking all money spent, including whether it was from joint funds or not. 

Managing the end of a relationship with a gambling addict is tricky. Your best resource — no matter what stage you are in — is an experienced divorce attorney in your state. Make an appointment today to start crafting a plan that will protect you and make your divorce as successful as possible.