Navigating Family Law Property Settlements: The Impact of Gambling Activities
Family law property settlements are intricate processes that involve the fair division of assets between separating parties. When one or both individuals have engaged in gambling activities during the course of their relationship, it introduces a layer of complexity to the settlement proceedings. This article explores the impact of gambling activities on family law property settlements and provides insights into how individuals can navigate these challenges.
Financial Disclosure and Transparency:
One of the obligations in Family Law property settlements is the requirement for full financial disclosure. According to Rule 6.06 of the Family Law Rules, parties must disclose all sources of earnings, including income from gambling. This includes detailed information about property disposals made in the period surrounding separation, ensuring transparency in the assessment of each party’s financial position.
Entertainment Vs Wastage- Legal Perspectives:
Family law recognises that personal life activities, such as gambling, can be considered a form of entertainment. The case of De Angelis and De Angelis  FamCA 1609 (FC) established that spending money on activities like gambling should not be criticised any more than spending on other forms of entertainment, such as sports.
However, the impact of gambling on Family Law property settlements becomes significant when it gives rise to a wastage claim. Generally, financial losses incurred by parties or either of them in the course of a marriage whether such losses result from a joint or several liability, should be shared by them (although not necessarily equally). Wastage, as defined by the landmark case of Kowaliw & Kowaliw  FamCA 70, occurs where:
- where one of the parties has embarked upon a course of conduct designed to reduce or minimise the effective value or worth of matrimonial assets, or
- where one of the parties has acted recklessly, negligently, or wantonly with matrimonial assets, the overall effect of which has reduced or minimised their value.
For example, Alex and Susan separate after 10 years of marriage. Alex and Susan are a couple of reasonable means. They earn a combined income of $190,000 per year and own several investment properties:
- Over the course of the relationship Susan gambles and loses $100,000. Susan has to refinance the martial home to fund her gambling habit. This conduct is likely to give rise to a wastage claim.
- Susan gambles recreationally on the weekends. She will put $250 in the pokies or place a $100 bet on a horse and often buys a lottery ticket. Susan wins some and loses some, but she loves the excitement of playing. This conduct is unlikely to give rise to a successful wastage claim as it does not satisfy the threshold of recklessly, negligently, or wantonly conduct.
- Alex is a semi-professional poker player. Alex spends his weeknight playing poker at the local casinos and weekends travelling to poker games. Alex has a separate bank account for his poker ‘side hustle’. Alex’s is sure his winnings outweigh his losses. In fact, Alex calculates that he has made a profit of $70,000. Alex has bank statements to back this up. This conduct is unlikely to give rise to a successful wastage claim because it has not reduced or minimised the value of the property pool.
Mitigating the Impact: Responsible Gambling Practices
For individuals concerned about the potential impact of their gambling activities on Family Law property settlements, adopting responsible gambling practices can make a difference. Keeping detailed records of gambling transactions, separating personal and joint finances, and ensuring that gambling activities do not lead to financial hardship can strengthen one’s position during settlement proceedings.
The impact of gambling on Family Law property settlements hinges on transparency, responsibility, and the ability to demonstrate the financial consequences of such activities. While gambling itself may be a recognised form of entertainment, individuals must be mindful of its potential impact on shared assets. Navigating these complexities requires a proactive approach, including clear financial disclosure, evidence of responsible gambling practices, and an understanding of relevant legal precedents. By taking these steps, individuals can work towards a fair and equitable resolution in the challenging journey of Family law property settlements.
News.com reported on a women in California forced to give her jackpot to her x husband. Read more here.
Author Aspen Roggeveen
Family law is a highly emotional and complex area of law where families navigate through parenting, property and relationships disputes. During these times, you need a competent and experienced family law lawyers who understands what you are going through, thinks carefully and proactively on your behalf and knows how to represent you for the best possible outcome.
If you want to understand your rights, contact Salerno Law and discover why we are Gold Coast’s best family lawyers.