Gambling May Have a Severe Impact on Marriage and Divorce in New Jersey
More Than Losing Trust and Being the Cause of a Divorce, the Futures of Both Spouses are at Stake when One Deals with Gambling Issues
On their wedding day, a couple declares their love and commitment through thick and thin, sharing their joy with friends and family. But when a gambling problem invades the household, the marriage can quickly dissolve into financial ruin and heated arguments. Studies have shown that the divorce rate for compulsive gamblers is almost 55%. The Bronzino Law Firm has the knowledge and experience with this kind of divorce, with deep resources and a desire to make sure our clients are treated fairly. Excellent representation is a must in these kinds of situations, as your financial future is on the line.
Identifying a Gambling Spouse in New Jersey
There are several telltale signs that can be observed in someone who has a gambling problem. Some gamblers have other addictions, such as alcohol or illegal substances. Many are impulsive and have mood swings that range from euphoric to deeply depressed, while others live seemingly balanced, highly adapted lives.
Compulsive gamblers frequently hide their spending, racking up debts on credit cards and taking out quick/payday loans that give fast cash at unreasonably high-interest rates. A gambler’s poor performance at work or school often indicates that something is afoot. Asking family, friends, coworkers, or even employers for loans to cover their debts or to keep gambling raises the stakes even further. When gamblers try to pull back or quit altogether, they become combative and irritable, perhaps drinking more than usual or abusing illegal substances. At their worst, a gambler will steal from family members, use fraudulent methods such as identity theft, sell family heirlooms, or engage in other illegal activities to win back what they have lost or get the big payout they know is just around the corner.
How Gambling can Contribute to the Breakdown of a Marital Relationship
Compulsive gamblers annihilate the bond of trust between themselves and their partners. Covering up their addiction, lying about finances, and why they frequently aren’t at home are all causes of a lack of trust. Gambling addictions can destroy a family’s finances in the blink of an eye. The partner is none the wiser until a foreclosure notice is posted on the door or an eviction notice is given. The emotional toll that gambling addiction can take on the couple is traumatic. The secrecy and the loss of work or their home can cause shame and lead the couple to isolate themselves from friends and family.
A relationship whose foundation has been broken is hard to sustain. Financial woes, arguments, trust issues, and deception all contribute to an eventual parting of ways. All bets are off until the gambling partner accepts that they have a problem and are willing to address it by receiving treatment. The destructive nature of any addiction can upend a marriage and when it is to a chronic gambler is distressing enough to lead to divorce.
Is Gambling Addiction a Cause for Fault-Based Divorce in New Jersey?
The state of New Jersey does not identify a “gambling addiction” as grounds for divorce per se, but when filing for a fault-based divorce, the category of extreme cruelty is typically used. Extreme cruelty encompasses emotional, mental, financial, or physical abuse, frequently found in relationships where a gambling disorder is present, thus giving validity to filing for divorce. Arguably, a gambling addict’s behavior may manifest in many detrimental ways that affect their relationship. Financial abuse is certainly a prime example, as are gambling-related outbursts, unpredictable behavior, and spurts of psychological or physical abuse.
The Marriage is Over, Who Pays for the Gambling Debt?
Getting divorced in New Jersey means the couple’s assets and debts are subject to “equitable distribution.” Several factors are examined to determine a fair split of assets and liabilities, which include how long the couple was married, whether there was a prenup, earning capacity of each spouse, and others. If the debt was incurred during the marriage, both spouses are liable, but there are some exceptions.
If the gambling spouse engages in illegal activities such as selling illicit substances or theft, if the partner can prove they knew nothing about it and did not participate in anything illegal, it is possible that a judge would consider the debt separate. Debts incurred by a spouse who gambles through fraudulent means such as identity theft, embezzlement, or other forms of financial fraud, can be seen as separate debts if it is shown that their partner knew nothing of the unscrupulous actions committed.
Some spouses run up high debts by making large purchases, gambling, and going on lavish trips to make their net worth appear lower. If the debts were created to radically change the financial panorama of the marriage, they could influence the judge’s decision as to who has the responsibility to pay them.
Tips to Prepare For Divorce From a Gambling Spouse in New Jersey
Documentation is critical when preparing for a divorce. The destructive path of a gambler can be seen through bank statements, lines of equity, investment accounts, loans, credit card statements, insurance policies, tax returns, pay stubs, and household expenses. It is a good idea to pay off credit card debt or other debts and close those accounts before they can be used to accumulate more debt. It is also prudent to request a credit score analysis to identify any unknown debt the gambling spouse has incurred without their spouse’s knowledge.
Contact a Skilled Family Lawyer to Protect Your Interests in NJ Divorce if a Spouse Gambles
Everyone in the family suffers when one member has a gambling problem. Children are exposed to frequent yelling matches, tears, money problems, and more. To protect yourself and your family, you must make the hard decisions. Divorce is difficult but usually not as tough as continuing to live with a compulsive gambler. Don’t Leave it in the Cards! An experienced divorce attorney can help you prove that your spouse used marital funds and access to credit by using marital assets as collateral to feed their addiction. This is called wasteful dissipation, and it isn’t easy to prove without the help of a seasoned divorce attorney. Your attorney can conduct depositions and discovery to stack the odds in your favor of not having the burden of debts you did not create.
The Bronzino Law Firm provides excellent representation for clients seeking a divorce under any circumstances, including one as challenging as a divorce from a partner who gambles compulsively. Our years of preparation and experience afford our lawyers the skills necessary to help you dissolve your marriage and allow you to move forward with your life. As a dedicated legal practice for over a decade, we have helped hundreds of clients with complex divorces in Red Bank, Freehold, Toms River, Spring Lake, Berkeley, Ocean Township, Brick, and throughout Ocean and Monmouth County.
Call our offices now at (732) 812-3102 or visit us online to schedule a free, confidential consultation. A divorce attorney at our firm is ready to help you determine what your next steps will be. You have struggled long enough. It’s time to take care of yourself and your family. Call today.