If you are divorcing a high roller, you need to be aware of your soon to be ex’s gambling losses and gains. Divorcing a winner means that you are entitled to half the winnings. Such a scenario, unfortunately is rare, since gambling is addictive and usually, losses outweigh wins, bringing more complications when assessing assets and debts for fair division (or distribution) in a divorce.
To find winnings, take out your tax return and look at IRS Form W-2G where winnings above certain monetary thresholds must be reported such as horse race winnings over $1500, slot machine wins over $1,200, poker winnings over $5000, etc. For smaller winnings you may need to subpoena the casino for player cards, receipts or house accounts that detail these gains. Gambling income is a marital asset that needs to be divided equally. Casino wins also include on-line casino’s which are now ubiquitous. To track these casinos down look for credit card payments to places such as Winbet or BetUS among dozens of others. A trip through your spouse’s browser history could also smoke out these virtual gaming parlors.
Gaming losses create a host of different issues. Debts amassed during the marriage are normally considered a marital (shared) debt that will be divided at the time of the judgment. However, one spouse, often a gambling addict, usually generates gambling debt, often without the knowledge or consent of their spouse. Gambling addiction can bleed a marital estate dry. Should this debt be shared in a divorce or be the sole responsibility of the gambler?
There is no set mechanism for dealing with gambling debt in a divorce. Most states are equitable division states. Equitable means fair, not equal. The Court can and will consider a number of factors in dividing the marital estate. The judge has the discretion to determine if the gambling debt, although accrued during the marriage is marital debt or the sole responsibility of the gambler. The judge can consider the behavior of both spouses, including whether the non gambling spouse allowed the gambling or was unaware of it. Your attorney will strongly advocate your position in cases of a gambling debt so that you are not burdened with debt generated by your spouse.
In a community property state, such as Washington, all property is categorized as “marital” or “Separate”. In these states, debts accrued during the marriage are marital. This does not mean that the court is without options. The court can hear evidence relating to wasting marital assets, and factor that into the ultimate property award. Again, a skilled attorney will advocate your position and emphasize that our spouse wasted marital assets.
There is no set way to handling gambling issues in a divorce. Discuss these matters with your attorney to ensure that, at the end of the day, you are the winner. #divorce #findingassets #michiganattorney #gambling