Q. My husband is addicted to gambling. I work full time and pay money into the joint account as I have throughout our marriage. Since losing his job, the gambling has got worse. He is using the fixed odds gambling machines in the bookies and is draining our funds. What can I do? Are there grounds for divorce?
A. You almost certainly have grounds for divorce on the basis of your husband’s unreasonable behaviour. If you do pursue a divorce, you will also be able to cite your husband’s unreasonable behaviour within the financial proceedings relating to the divorce.
When deciding how to separate financial assets upon divorce, the Court must apply the factors set out in section 25 MCA 1973. Such factors include differences in income and earning capacity, the financial needs of the parties, the standard of living enjoyed by the parties, any disability either party suffers with, the party’s ages and the duration of the marriage, the contributions made by either party and, importantly in your case, ‘the conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it’.
In most cases where conduct is raised, the conduct is usually financial misconduct. Depending on the amount of money that has been lost by your husband’s irresponsible gambling and what other assets there are in the ‘matrimonial pot’, you could be able to convince the court that you should be compensated for your husband’s misconduct.
In the immediate term you could take steps to prevent him from using your wages by having them placed into a separate account. There is also help available to your husband and he should consider accessing such help via the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/addiction/Pages/gamblingaddiction.aspx
You should seek urgent advice from an experienced divorce lawyer without delay.