Whether it is playing a game of blackjack or keno, betting on sports, or buying a lottery ticket, Americans love to gamble. For many, gambling is a casual hobby. For others, however, gambling is a full-blown addiction. The National Center for Responsible Gaming reports that about one percent of the U.S. adult population suffers from a severe gambling problem. However, many experts believe that number is higher than reported.
If your spouse has a gambling addiction, you know first-hand how destructive it can be on both a financial level and a personal level. Many marriages cannot withstand the impact of addiction, and the couple ends up getting a divorce. If you are divorcing someone with a gambling problem, it is important to take steps to protect yourself.
Gambling Addiction Affects the Whole Family
Scientists believe that a neurotransmitter called dopamine is the main brain chemical involved in gambling addiction. The feel-good chemical compels the gambler to continue gambling – even if he or she is losing money. Once the money is lost, the gambler desperately tries to make up for the losses by gambling more. It is a vicious cycle.
Gambling addiction often affects the entire family. The person with the addiction is often forced to lie about his or her whereabouts, hide money, or sell property to fund the addiction. Some spouses do not realize how much money has been lost to gambling until long after the funds have disappeared.
Steps to Take When Divorcing Someone with a Gambling Problem
If your spouse has a gambling problem, it is important to protect yourself and your finances. Make sure to close any joint credit card accounts and work with a divorce lawyer to separate your finances. Your attorney can help you protect your financial resources without being accused of hiding assets in the divorce. Some people in this situation use a financial restraining order to prevent their spouse from transferring or spending funds recklessly. Another important step is to start gathering financial documents and evidence of the gambling losses such as bank statements, credit card statements, and tax returns.
You may also want to look into filing a Dissipation of Assets claim. Dissipation of assets occurs when a spouse recklessly spends marital funds or property after the marriage has reached an irreparable breakdown. Gambling may be considered dissipation of assets depending on the timing of the gambling losses and whether you knew about your spouse’s behavior. If your claim is successful, your spouse may be required to reimburse the marital estate for the funds or property lost to the addiction.
Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer
If you are getting divorced and your spouse has a gambling problem, you need a lawyer who understands the difficult position you are in. At MKFM Law, our St. Charles divorce attorneys are highly experienced in complex financial concerns, dissipation of assets claims, and more. Call 630-665-7300 for a free consultation.