With Las Vegas and Reno only a few hours away from Los Angeles, and with a number of popular casinos beckoning here in California, many Californians go to gambling establishments for an evening of fun and recreation.
However, there are a small portion of adults who are adversely affected by gambling. Approximately 2-3% of adults suffer from addictive gambling disorders. Those who cannot control these disorders can see serious impacts on their own lives and on the lives of their loved ones. Even those who do not have serious gambling addictions can get themselves into financial troubles that could affect a family court proceeding.
How Can Gambling Affect a Family?
Like any type of addiction, gambling can lead to the breakdown of a marriage and lead to divorce. California, unlike some other states, does not have any specific fault grounds for divorce, so if gambling is the cause of the deterioration of marriage and the parties meet the proper requirements, a divorce will be granted.
A spouse may want a divorce because the other spouse gambled away all of the marital assets.
How Have California Courts Ruled on Gambling Cases in the Family Court?
In one notable case, the California Court of Appeals held that winnings from gambling “follow the character of their source.” This means that if the winnings were won with marital property, then the winnings themselves will also be marital property. The court came to this decision because a husband had gambled nearly $10,000 of marital property and won almost double that amount. With his winnings, he bought a care which he claimed was separate property. However, the court disagreed and said that his wife had an equal interest in the car.
Will I Be Responsible for My Spouses Gambling Debts?
Generally, you will not. California law indicates that all assets and debts that were acquired during the marriage are marital property. California is a community property state which means that assets and debts are divided equitably between spouses. On its face, this would appear as though you were on the hook for the money your spouse lost in a casino or other gambling venue.
However, California Family code 2625 states that debts that were not incurred for the benefit of the marriage will not be marital property. While cases may exist, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which an individual is losing money while gambling that at the same time benefits the marriage. However, on the other hand, it is likely that if an individual wins big while gambling then they will likely have to split the value of their assets.
How Can a Los Angeles Family Attorney Help?
Gambling addiction can cause serious problems both in your own life, and in the life of your families. If you are seeking a divorce because of your spouse’s gambling or you are worried about dividing your marital assets, we can help. The attorneys at Berenji & Associates have experience ensuring each spouse. Contact us today for a free consultation in your case.