Addictive gambling destroys marriages, just like many other addictions. Where gambling is an addiction, not only can it lead to divorce, it can cause problems financially for both spouses during and after a divorce.
Are disagreements over money a significant cause for divorce?
Yes. Money differences are among the top three causes for divorce.
Where do you rank gambling as a cause for divorce?
Addictive gambling is a specific cause for divorce with increasing frequency, especially since the opening of the river boat casinos. Gamblers Anonymous states that 16% of Illinois Gamblers Anonymous members were divorced due to gambling.
You use the term “addictive” in regards to gambling. Is it an addiction?
Yes. The mental health community views gambling as potentially addictive or compulsive behavior, much the same as addictions to alcohol, food, tobacco etc.
How does gambling impact a marriage?
First, financially as gambling debts have to be paid off. The second way gambling impacts a marriage is much the same as adultery. Gambling is usually clandestine and requires lying, and the lies, when revealed, go to the core of the marriage.
What help is there for gamblers?
Patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous is Gamblers Anonymous. Local psychotherapists also deal with gambling addictions.
P. O. Box 17173
Los Angeles, CA 90017
NATIONAL HOTLINE 888-GA-HELPS (888-424-3577)
Is gambling grounds for divorce?
Not of itself. Grounds for divorce are contained in the Illinois Divorce Act and include adultery, mental cruelty, desertion etc. While gambling, as such, is not one of the specified grounds for divorce, it is possible that along with other factors which go along with gambling, it could be part of mental cruelty grounds for divorce.
Just like there are compulsive gamblers, are there not compulsive spenders, that is, people who are addicted to buying things they don’t need?
Yes. We frequently see addictive spending as part of the reason for a divorce.
What can I do about controlling my spouse’s spending habits?
Very little, usually. Yes, you can take away, or rip up, the credit cards, but the fact is that new credit cards come in the mail unsolicited. Usually the best you can do is to carefully monitor expenditures by keeping track of the checkbook and reviewing credit card bills. If there are divorce proceedings pending you can apply to the court for an injunction re use of credit cards.
Can I be held liable for my spouse’s debts?
It depends. Being held liable for a debt is usually a contract matter. If you signed for your spouse’s credit card, or if both of you signed, then as a matter of contract you are liable on the credit card. Aside from having signed for a credit card, you can be held liable for your spouse’s expenditures if they are for family necessities.
Thus, for example, if you are the main breadwinner in the family and your spouse does not have enough money to pay for necessities, such as food and clothing, and charges these items, you could be held liable because these are necessities. On the other hand, if your wife bought a sable coat you would not be held liable because this is not a family necessity.