Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Divorce

What happens when a spouse's gambling addiction wreaks havoc on the family's finances? We review this issue in the case Viscito v. Viscito, 214 So.3d 736 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017) where the court considered the husband's gambling debts in equitable distribution and alimony determinations. 

During their marriage, the parties in this case purchased from the wife's sister her one-half share of a house owned by the wife and her sister prior to marriage. Title to the house remained in the wife's name. At some point, it became necessary to refinance the house because of the husband's gambling problem and his unemployment, culminating in a bankruptcy filing. At that point, the marital funds invested in the house were exceeded by the debt. 

In calculating the husband's portion of the value of the home, the trial court took into consideration that the debt on the home had increased because of the husband's gambling and voluntary unemployment. The court therefore reduced the husband's share of the equity in the home to account for this increased debt. The trial court also denied the husband's request for alimony on these grounds. 

The husband appealed and the appellate court upheld the trial court's decision, holding there was no error in the decision to hold the husband responsible for his gambling debts. Further, the appellate court determined there was evidence to support the fact that the husband was employable and voluntarily chose not to work. 

In this case, we see how a spouse's vices can affect the marital estate and in turn, that spouse's share of marital assets. If there is a similar issue in your divorce, you should consult with a Miami divorce lawyer to determine the best options in protecting your assets.