Q: While he was furloughed, getting paid but not working, my husband started gambling online. He ran up huge debts we cannot afford, has become a social moron and sits glued to his computer saying nothing to me or the kids. If I divorce him, will I be responsible for half his gambling debts, or would those be taken into consideration and give me a bigger financial settlement?
A: It does depend on the extent to which your husband’s gambling has depleted your joint assets. Under s25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 it could be considered as financial misconduct and therefore judged by the court to be “extreme or substantial”. This being the case, it is likely that it will be taken into account in a divorce settlement and will reduce your husband’s share of the remaining assets.
An important factor in establishing any liability you may have for your husband’s gambling debt will be whether the debt is solely in his name. Presumably the accounts he set up on the gambling sites will be in his name only, and even if he used a joint bank account to pay for them you could still prove that it was his debt and that it was not incurred to pay for something that benefitted the marriage. When financial agreements are made by the court, judges will normally share joint debts as well as joint assets, but in such cases such as one party running up a gambling debt, a judge may assign a specific debt to an individual.
You should collect as much direct evidence of your husband’s gambling as you can, including online accounts and activity records and bank or credit card statements. Then you should make an appointment with a divorce lawyer to discuss your best course of action. Both actions will be crucial to getting the best possible financial settlement.
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