Gambling can be a recreational activity in moderation, but too often, it can lead to addiction, causing insurmountable debt and financial ruin. It can also be a factor in the breakdown of a marriage. If you and your spouse are divorcing and gambling debts are a factor, our divorce attorneys in Raleigh are sharing how this can affect you whether you or your spouse accrued the debt.
Understanding Equitable Distribution in North Carolina
When it comes to property distribution, North Carolina uses the rule of equitable distribution. This means that all marital property, including real estate, checking account balances, and stocks and retirement accounts, as well as debts such as mortgages, car loans, and credit card debts, must be divided equitably, or fairly. The judge will factor in things like income or earning potential, the health of both parties, as well as the length and quality of life during the marriage. Then they will use this information when determining the settlement.
However, gambling debts can be considered financial misconduct, so the judge may view these differently.
Property Division When Gambling Debts Affect Property
The judge can look at financial misconduct similarly to marital infidelity or alcoholism and drug addiction as a factor that put duress on the spouse and led to the breakdown of the marriage. Thus, the judge may have grounds to award more of the marital property to the other spouse or absolve them of responsibility toward paying the debts accrued from gambling. This is more likely in the event the gambling debts reduced the value of the estate.
For example, if a couple’s net worth is only $100,000 when all debts and assets are totaled because one spouse gambled and lost $100,000 in marital property, the court may award a higher amount of the marital assets to the other as compensation.
When Your Gambling Addiction Jeopardizes Your Divorce
If you accrued gambling debts and are facing divorce, it’s important to understand that the judge may punish gambling losses seriously by awarding more of the marital estate to your ex-spouse. In order to improve your chances of a favorable outcome, we would recommend:
- Entering a counseling or treatment program for gambling
- Paying back debts using non-marital property, such as taking a second job
- Show proof that the spouse was aware of the gambling and didn’t object until the divorce
The most important thing you can do to protect your future is to have a divorce lawyer on your side to create a strategy that will improve your chances of a fair settlement.
When Your Spouse’s Gambling Addiction Leads to Debts During a Divorce
On the other hand, if your spouse was the one responsible for gambling debts, and you’re concerned about how this will affect your future, we would recommend taking the following actions:
- Gather any evidence showing your spouse hid information related to gambling or that you objected to the gambling
- Obtain evidence of debts accrued due to gambling
- Show how this negatively affected you and your family
And again, we can’t stress enough how important it is to secure experienced legal representation. Having an attorney who understands equitable distribution and property division in NC as well as who can create a powerful strategy on your behalf can improve your chances of achieving a favorable outcome.
Schedule a Consultation with Our Family Law Firm Today
If you are concerned about gambling debts and how they may affect your divorce, reach out to our experienced divorce attorneys today. Call us at (919) 301-8843 or fill out the form below to schedule a consultation.
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