For most people, gambling is a fun pastime that takes up very little time and money. Some people, however, will gamble away years of income, sometimes even going into debt to support a gambling habit. If the gambling partner cannot stop this behavior and drives their family into debt, the other partner may seek divorce.
When a spouse seeks divorce because gambling is an issue, the couple will still file using “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce. But there are special actions a spouse filing for divorce can take to ensure that the couple’s shared assets are not entirely gambled away before the divorce can occur.
How to Stop a Spouse From Gambling
Once a spouse has filed for divorce, they can file for a financial restraining order to prevent the gambling spouse from continuing to gamble. If the gambling spouse has a serious addiction disorder, they may disobey the restraining order; the order has no control over whether casinos let someone in. If this is a concern, a court may order the spouse with a gambling addiction to put themselves on something called a “self-exclusion list” at a casino. This is an agreement between a person and a casino that the casino will not let them in.
Spouses can also apply to have assets frozen during the divorce proceedings so that the assets are protected from gambling dissipation. However, the safest solution for the spouse filing for divorce from the gambling spouse may be to get divorced quickly and get out of the situation.
What if the Money is Already Gambled Away?
If a spouse has already gambled away the marital assets, the non-gambling spouse may be able to get at least some of the money back by asking a court to consider the lost money as “dissipated assets.” This means that when the court finalizes the divorce and separates assets out to each partner, the money that has been lost gambling will be considered part of the asset settlement that the gambling partner gets.
This can get complicated because the amount of money the non-gambling spouse can recover will depend on how long the gambling has been going on and whether he or she actually knew about it. If the non-gambling spouse knew the gambling was occurring before they filed for divorce, they can go back and recover up to three years’ worth of losses. If they did not know, the time period for recovery extends for up to five years.
Proving Gambling Occurred
The non-gambling spouse should gather as much information as possible to prove that the gambling took place. This includes receipts, lines of credit from casinos, hotel stays, and other evidence that gambling occurred. Even though the gambling spouse will have to prove that they did not dissipate the marital assets, the more evidence the non-gambling spouse has, the better their case will be.
Call a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer
If you or your spouse are struggling with a gambling problem and facing divorce, get help from an experienced Hinsdale divorce attorney. Martoccio & Martoccio can help you navigate your case with skill and compassion. Contact us today for a confidential consultation at 630-920-8855.