Your spouse always handled the household finances while you focused on managing the home and being a primary caregiver for the children, but now you’re in the process of divorce. To your shock, a review of marital bank accounts and other financial holdings has revealed that the person you once trusted so much gambled away huge amounts of marital funds.
In New York, when divorcing spouses cannot agree on how to divide the marital estate, the court will review an inventory of all assets, identify which ones are separate and which ones belonged to you as a couple, and divide the latter equitably, or fairly.
Judges are allowed to take different factors into account when deciding how to distribute marital assets. In New York, they include:
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
- Each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions
- The standard of living that the couple enjoyed
- Each spouse’s financial needs after divorce
- Each spouse’s earning ability
In some cases, judges will also consider any financial infidelity that reduces the marital estate. This includes attempts by one spouse to hide money from the other, retirement accounts accessed without informing the other spouse first, spending money on adulterous affairs, and gambling away marital funds.
In other words, the judge may take steps to compensate you for the money that your spouse wasted. For example, if your household had a net worth of $300,000 when you filed for divorce because your spouse gambled away $25,000, then the court could award you $175,000 (half of the $300,000 value plus the $25,000 wasted) and $125,000 to your spouse.
This is only an example, as the court has discretion over how it will address these property division challenges. In some cases, it may do nothing at all. For example, if you had known about your spouse’s gambling addiction and condoned it or, at the very least, failed to object, then you’re less likely to be compensated.
Spouses who have knowledge of and didn’t approve of their partner’s gambling should collect evidence of your disapproval, such as:
- Texts, emails, or voicemails in which you expressed your concerns
- Witnesses who can confirm that you were worried about the gambling
To increase your chances of being compensated fairly, collect as much direct evidence of your spouse’s gambling as possible. Go through your bank and credit card statements and collect any IOU’s that you find.
When one party dissipates the marital estate, it’s not always easy for the other spouse to reclaim their share of those lost assets, as no formula exists for wrongful spending reimbursement. An experienced New York family law attorney will help you address the situation and receive a property award that’s fair under the circumstances.
If you are considering divorce or if you have been served with divorce papers, then you should contact the law office of Jayson Lutzky. Mr. Lutzky is a highly experienced Bronx divorce lawyer. He offers free in-office initial consultations. Call 718-329-9500 to set up an appointment.