Betsy and Steve* lived in a nice, upper middle class home. Betsy was an emergency room nurse and Steve worked in a mattress factory. They had one child. They both worked odd hours. Steve frequently worked overtime. Sometimes he was gone 15 to 18 hour days.
Even with all of the extra hours Betsy was having a hard time paying the bills. The family rarely went on vacation and besides Steve’s new truck that he bought with a “work bonus” they didn’t make large purchases or needed home improvements. When the marriage broke down the truth finally came out: Steve had been going to the casino. The “work bonus” had been money he’d won gambling. He’d hidden his spending and addiction from Betsy for nearly two years.
Gambling, divorce and distribution
When it comes to divorce, North Carolina is an “equitable distribution” state. This means if you and your spouse do not agree on how to divide your property then the courts will divide it as they see equitable.
There are three possible property categories in a North Carolina divorce.They are:
If you or your spouse has used marital funds to gamble, the court will take this into consideration when it comes time to divide assets and award alimony. In the case of Betsy and Steve the court not only awarded Betsy the house but also took into consideration Steve’s deceit and misuse of funds when determining the alimony he paid. Gambling is grounds for divorce in North Carolina. Gambling is reckless spending and is considered marital misconduct.
Alimony is different
Most people think of adultery when they think of marital misconduct. While property division is not affected by adultery in North Carolina alimony is. If you were unfaithful and your spouse requests alimony it’s likely you will have to pay. If both you and your spouse both had affairs then the decision rests in the hands of the court. When it comes to marital misconduct each case is unique. The best course of action to take is to speak with an attorney who works in family law.
*Names have been changed.