Whether your spouse’s gambling addiction is what destroyed your marriage or it’s just one problem among many that led you to consider divorce, it’s crucial to take steps to protect your financial future quickly. If possible, you should do it before you tell your spouse about your plans.
You may have no idea of the full extent of your spouse’s debt until the two of you begin the financial disclosures required in divorce. Even then, you may have to do some further investigation. That’s just one reason why you should seek legal guidance as soon as possible.
Start protecting your finances immediately
Typically, it’s wise to start separating your finances and putting away money of your own. That means opening a checking account in your name only and having your paychecks and other money that’s solely yours deposited there. If you don’t have a credit card that’s only in your name, get one.
You’ll need to collect as much documentation of your spouse’s spending on gambling as possible. This can include ATM withdrawals at Atlantic City casinos, credit card charges from online gambling sites, withdrawals from a 401(k) plan you didn’t know about and more. You will also be advised to get copies of:
- Bank, retirement account and investment account statements
- Credit card statements
- Insurance policies
- Tax returns
- Pay stubs
- Loan/line of credit documents
If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, this may further protect you from having to take responsibility for your spouse’s gambling debts
Having a forensic accountant or financial advisor (not one you share with your spouse) on your team may be worth the investment to help quantify the amount your spouse has spent on gambling over the years. It could be far more than you even realize. If you can show “dissipation of assets,” or wasteful spending, this will be considered by the court in determining your share of the marital assets as you divorce.
While divorces where a serious gambling problem is involved have some sad similarities, each one is unique. That’s why sound professional guidance is crucial to protect yourself as you move forward.