You Can Have it Both Ways 7th, July , 2020

Generally speaking the reason why a marriage breaks down does not have an effect on the way the matrimonial assets are divided.

To put it another way if a marriage breaks down because of one party’s unreasonable behaviour that does not mean that the other party should receive a larger share of the assets.

There are, however, exceptions to this principle.

One of the exceptions relates to gambling. There have been a number of reported cases where the court has taken the view that because one of the spouses has reduced the amount of matrimonial assets available for division as a direct result of losses incurred by gambling the other spouse should not be adversely affected.

In these cases the court has not split the pot equally and has favoured the spouse who had lost out because of the gambling which they often knew nothing about.

On the other hand if, during the course of the marriage, one of the spouses wins a large amount of money, whether that be in a casino, or sports betting online or on the lottery then, in the event of the parties separating, the proceeds of gambling, if they still exist, will be regarded by the court as matrimonial assets and will be shared, usually equally, between the parties.

It seems fair that a spouse should not be disadvantaged by the actions of their spouse, which they did not condone and which has diminished the assets.

What is less clear is whether a spouse should share the winnings of a bet they may have known nothing about and very possibly would not have approved of.

The facts are different in every case and if there are doubts about whether it is fair to share the assets equally, advice should be sought from an experienced Family Lawyer.

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