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Do I Have to Help My Spouse Pay Gambling Debt in Our Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce

st. charles divorce lawyerFinding out your spouse has thousands of dollars in gambling debt can be one of the most difficult things that can happen when you are getting divorced in Illinois. Yet for some spouses, this is exactly what happens during the divorce process. For some chronic gamblers, their addiction is out of control and can drive their family to the brink of insolvency. 

The non-gambling spouse who has filed for divorce may be worried about whether he or she has to pay half of their partner’s gambling debt. What happens to all that money? And what if their shared credit, such as a home equity loan, was leveraged in order to get more money for gambling? 

Illinois is an Equitable Division State

Luckily for the non-gambling spouse, Illinois divorce law mandates that marital assets and debt be divided equitably, rather than equally. This means that the judge will consider who brought money into the marriage, who spent it, and why. For example, if a couple has $300,000 in total assets at the time of the divorce, but would have had $400,000 if the husband had not gambled away $100,000, it would not be unusual for the wife to be given $200,000 and the husband $100,000. 

However, if the wife knew about the husband’s gambling during the marriage and did not object, the money lost in gambling will be treated differently. If the non-gambling spouse did not know about the gambling, they may recover up to five years’ worth of losses from the gambling. But if they did know, this is reduced to three years of recovery. 

Stopping Gambling During Divorce

Sometimes a spouse wants to intentionally dissipate marital funds via gambling before a divorce, or they truly have a gambling addiction. Either way, the non-gambling spouse may want to try to stop the gambling to prevent further losses. 

Once the divorce has been filed, the non-gambling spouse can file for something called a “financial restraining order.” This is a court order mandating that a gambler is not permitted to spend marital assets. However, because a financial restraining order does not prevent casinos from letting someone in, it can be easily thwarted.

In severe cases, the non-gambling spouse may request to have marital assets frozen. The quickest way to stop your spouse from gambling away marital assets is to get divorced as quickly as possible and separate finances altogether. 

Call a Barrington Divorce Lawyer

Finding out that your spouse has racked up extensive gambling debt can be frightening and confusing, but you do not have to deal with the situation alone. An experienced Kane County divorce attorney with The Law Offices of Benedict Schwarz, II P.C. can help you navigate your case with skill and compassion. Contact us today for an initial consultation at 847-428-7725.







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