Under the California Family Code, debt incurred during a marriage is considered community property or each party owes half of it. While community debt common for auto loans, mortgages, or credit card debt, does it also apply to gambling debt? For example, if a husband went to Reno and bet $10,000.00 on the Oakland Raiders to win last week’s football game and they lost, then is the community should be responsible for that $10,000.00? Is the wife responsible for $5,000.00 of the debt even though she never knew of the bet?
Although a wife whose husband gambled away the retirement fund as well as marriage has no recourse against the casino, she may have recourse in the divorce. Under the California Family Code, gambling loss during marriage is considered a debt not in the benefit of community property and, therefore, the husband’s separate debt. That means that the husband owes the community for the money lost and the wife can offset that lost money against other property in a divorce. This is not surprising since no wife would ever agree to a bet on the Raiders regardless of the odds. Therefore, the wife could get her $5,000.00 back by taking more of the equity in the house, getting the better car, or just taking more of the remaining cash left in the community account.
However, California is not so kind to the husband who bet against the Raiders and won big. All gambling winning made during marriage is considered community property and the wife is entitled to half of that at divorce. Therefore, the husband will have to give half his winnings to the wife in the form of more equity in the house, the better car, or just more cash. The moral of the story is that the house may have an edge on the odds but the wife can’t lose, sort of.
If you need to consult an attorney regarding a divorce with gambling involved, please contact Sagaria Law to setup a free consultation.