Am I LIABLE for my husband's GAMBLING DEBTS?

Q. My husband won't stop gambling. Am I liable for his gambling debts?

Janet, Lake Havasu, AZ

The community property that the two of you own is liable as to satisfy his gambling obligations, assuming there is any left. Whether you are liable to the Indian Casino or Las Vegas hotel beyond your share of the community depends upon whether you have an independent contractual relationship with them - i.e., a line of credit in your name.

As between you and your husband, unless you consented to his gambling he may owe you (if your separate property is somehow attached to satisfy the debt) or to the community estate a reimbursement or indemnification right.

If he is a professional gambler and this is his "work" the outcome would be different. The outcome may also depend on whether the community benefited from the gambling, i.e., if winnings were used to support the community, then a court may deem it fair to share the obligation as to "losings".

This right of reimbursement would similarly exist if he squandered money on drugs, or prostitutes, and so on - assuming you can prove it and trace the money! The question is whether you consented and ripens when you can establish that his conduct violated fiduciary duties owing you. One never knows, however, how a judge will treat this on a case by case basis but the law if moving towards greater accountability.

If his gambling does amount to a breach of fiduciary duties owing you as a result of your marriage or domestic partnership, you have substantial remedies.

To learn more about breach of fiduciary duties and what they may mean for you, click here!

Thurman W. Arnold III