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just found out husband is a gambler - how to protect my finances

(55 Posts)
hadabigshocktoday Fri 06-Feb-15 17:23:47

My husband sat me down this morning and handed me a long letter in which he detailed the situation which in essence is this: he has been gambling intensively on online sites over the last 3-4 years and has built up 10's of thousands of pounds in personal debt on credit cards and loans. He has hit rock bottom by the sounds of it, and has been comtemplating suicide. He asked me to take over the finances and that he understands if I want to leave but he can't keep it a secret any longer as it is killing him. I think because he was so honest about it, and so clearly suffering with the mental health aspect, I haven't even been angry with him or considered what I do about it. He knows that I may leave. I have spent today focusing on trying to get him help by getting in touch with the GP and he has been given antidepressants, and he has called gamcare and they are going to put him in touch will counselling support. I have blocked gambling sites via BT, and made him cancel the football channels on sky (this is what he has been betting on). He tells me he has not gambled for a week, and is done with it. I believe that he believes that right now and anyone who knew him would be absoultely shocked this was him as he is a really good guy, not a player type or a "lad", he obviously has a problem, rather than a natural disregard for us if you know what I mean.

So from that point of view all I can do is hope that is enough and he will stay clear now. But this is the second time this has happened (the first time, he had won (gambling) quite a big sum of cash, and at first we had a nice time having a holiday and buying a computer etc. but then I found out he had gambled the last lot of it away instead of holding on to it for a rainy day in his savings account, but it was his money and so I forgave him.

This time, though I recognise the need to protect the finances for me and our daughter. I don't know if I am going to to stay and try and fix things or go but either way he has asked me to control his finances and the big thing is the mortgage as far as I am concerned - it has a facility to draw down on it, and also there is equity which might get swallowed to pay for his debts if it gets that bad. He tells me he has a plan to pay it off, and maybe that is so, but it will take a long time and I am not sure if he will be able to stick to it. I wondered if a good option might be for him to sign over the house to me and in doing so release some of the money we can draw against tit to make the debt more manageable with the understanding that (assuming we are able to salvage the marriage) he can come back into the house when he has paid it and us back.

Sorry this is muddled, I am muddled right now. I wondered if anyone had any advice for me on how to go about this (or even anyone who has personally been involved with gambling addictions who could offer any insight).

Thanks :-)

TalkinPeace Fri 06-Feb-15 19:48:27

Addictions I'm no use on ...
dealing with credit cards : you are in the right place.

(a) cut them up

(b) write to each of the providers and say that you will honour the existing debts but that the income figures to get the cards were lies even if they were not and get all the accounts shut down

(c) write to experian and do the same - it will give him a zero credit rating for a couple of years but that is to your benefit

cancel the direct debits on each and every one of the cards and set them up as standing orders for what he paid last month rounded up the nearest £5

sit back : the card balances will clear themselves within 3 years
and get help for the gambling addiction

Bearbehind Fri 06-Feb-15 20:02:35

Op, I'm no good on gambling advice either.

talkinpeaces advice about cutting up the cards and closing the accounts is sound but I definitely wouldn't tell anyone your husband obtained the credit cards fraudulently by over declaring his income (especially if it's not true)- that will screw him over, but more importantly you too.

If you don't trust him not to do it again, just make sure you can access all his online/ paper statements to see exactly what going on.

If needs be - open his mail- but don't confess to something that's not even true.

If he has no access to money to gamble without you seeng it- he can't do it again.

TalkinPeace Fri 06-Feb-15 21:31:09

I definitely wouldn't tell anyone your husband obtained the credit cards fraudulently by over declaring his income (especially if it's not true)- that will screw him over, but more importantly you too.
you'd think so wouldn't you

I have personally cut up the cards of one of my clients
for various reasons all correspondence came through my house
when the debt collectors got silly I begged them to come to court so that their decision process could be tested in public.

they wrote off £10k of unrecoverable debt as to collect it would prove they had breached the rules in offering it

seriously, a very hard ball approach can work a treat

Bearbehind Fri 06-Feb-15 21:36:46

I don't doubt that hard ball can work in some circumstances but telling a lender that the husband obtained the card fraudulently in the first place is a very, very bad idea- you are on the back foot from the start.

Fair enough if he did actually overstate his income and the lender didn't bother checking but lying to get yourself into trouble is just madness.

TalkinPeace Fri 06-Feb-15 21:43:33

as contrary as it may seem, the onus is now on the lender.

my lovely client ( and he is lovely if a PITA ) took out a card while pissed, bankrupt, in a casino, online at 11pm
he told them whatever was needed to get the £4000 instant access
which he promptly spent on the roulette table

all I had to do was ask for the "compliance file" and they HSBC btw shivered into the ground

Bearbehind Fri 06-Feb-15 21:48:06

Talk, I think we are arguing the same side of the coin here.

I totally agree that the onus is on the lender which is why I totally disagree that they should ring up and say they lied in order to obtain the credit.

If push comes to shove then by all means go down the route of 'I didn't know what I was doing' but saying you knowing lied to obtain credit is stupidity.

AcrossthePond55 Fri 06-Feb-15 21:48:51

I'm in the US so this may or may not help.

He should go to 'Gambler's Anonymous' if you have it there.

This same thing happened to a friend's mother. They lost everything except their home. They had savings, investments, a nice little business. All gone. He opened credit cards and took out loans behind her back to fund his addiction. Everything had to be liquidated and it still wasn't enough to clear the full amount. When she found out he cried, made promises, begged forgiveness. And after all that, she STILL couldn't stop him. He went back to the casinos & ran up more debt. And that debt also belongs to her. Our friend forced his mother to see an attorney and his advice was to get a divorce, because that was the only way she could protect herself from his gambling addiction. And so, she made him sign the house over to her as part of the settlement and they divorced. And he's still gambling. He's paying off the debt but if he defaults they will come after her for the debts that were created during their marriage. Even the divorce doesn't absolve her of debt created during the marriage.

They had been married almost 50 years & are still living in the same home, though God only knows why she let him stay. They had a nice semi-retired lifestyle. Now she's near the poverty line and thanking God her home was paid for and that he didn't take out another mortgage on it!

You need to see a solicitor right away. You need a clear understanding of your financial position and your liability for his debts. You also need a clear understanding of the legalities as to protecting your house as well as yourself and your DC.

Clutterbugsmum Fri 06-Feb-15 21:51:01

My first thought was he has run out means of getting any more money/cards.

As this is the second (at least) time he has done this you need to think seriously as to whether you can continue to live like this. What happens when you clear all the debt, has he told you everything do a credit check to make sure you know everything he has done credit wise.

TalkinPeace Fri 06-Feb-15 22:14:28

one huge relief is that Consumer protection within the EU makes the rest of the world look like Madoff's back yard

TTIP is about weakening it BTW

AcrossthePond55 Sat 07-Feb-15 00:54:48

Talk does that Consumer Protection mean that a spouse wouldn't be responsible for an idiot-spouse's running up mountains of debt? That would be really great!

WildRunner Sat 07-Feb-15 01:08:05

Be careful about signing the house over if your name is not on the deeds but he is carrying debt.

Nolim Sat 07-Feb-15 07:13:28

See a solicitor.

hadabigshocktoday Sat 07-Feb-15 07:59:37

Thanks everyone for all of your replies. as part of telling me he asked me to take control of the finances, and to cut up his cards and close his accounts. With the exception of his bank account which we cannot close as it is in overdraft. my plan (if I stay and don't leave him to rot in his own mess) would be to ensure I have access to all his accounts, open his mail, check his credit report every month to ensure he hasn't opened a new account. In terms of paying it off, we have always had a joint account into which all of our money goes except for a couple of hundred each which we keep to pay for our stuff like nights out hair cuts etc. so the plan is that he will be using his "allowance" to pay things off. He is maxed out at the moment and the repayments are much much more than he gets so we need to think how to do it.

With regard to the house, I have told him that I expect that to be signed over to me - on the deeds as well as the mortgage. My thinking being that I need to protect our equity from creditors but also I don't want him somehow frittering away our home.

I am not sure that I understood some of the posts at the beginning - are some of you saying that we could argue to the credit companies that they shouldn't have allowed the debt in the first place and get it reduced?

Thanks again for all your help, the emotions are kicking in this morning, and I am feeling pretty lost.

Thanks x

hadabigshocktoday Sat 07-Feb-15 08:04:51

Ps - just to say I trying to be logical about all this - he clearly is in a very dark place at the moment and he is my daughters dad, Whether I stay in the marriage or not I feel obliged to do my best to help him get back on his feet for her sake and her future relationship with him (cos I think if we don't get it sorted he will end up homeless). But equally, I cannot allow his actions to directly affect her future either. Also, I have had a bad year with illness, I have a long term chronic illness which appears to be getting worse and not much support from my family, so worried about being on my own if I am honest. Especially as I am self employed and struggling to work cos of my health...

tribpot Sat 07-Feb-15 08:36:34

Be careful with your desire to do your best to help him. Key to addiction is the addict understanding that this is entirely their own doing and only they can lead the recovery process. Propping him up may prolong the active phase of the addiction - in other words do the exact opposite of what you hope to achieve. This applies to you taking control of the finances - making you police the problem is likely to kill your relationship whatever else you decide. The finances do have to be transparent and he should limit his access to credit but he has to own the financial resolution. Equally you have to take control of your finances in order to protect yourself.

Next most important thing is disclosure. The addict has to own what they've done publicly. That means trying to manage this between the two of you without anyone else being aware of it is extremely unlikely to succeed. He needs to tell his friends and family what he's done. Addiction thrives on secrecy.

He needs to get debt advice - note, he needs to do this. He has to fix this mess himself. I would be concerned that a debt recovery agency would see making over his asset to you as a way of avoiding the debts being recoverable. He should probably be looking at TMF's Dealing With Debt board or MoneySaving Expert has an equivalent called Debt-free Wannabe. I would see a solicitor to talk about how you can limit your exposure.

Is he looking for a meeting? He may find one he could attend today. I'm assuming you've looked at the Gamcare info for friends and family.

Clutterbugsmum Sat 07-Feb-15 08:42:26

The best way to help him is to MAKE him sort out his mess. He needs to get a second/evening Job and all that money goes on his debt. His allowance goes on HIS debt.

The bank may not agree to him signing the house over to you if you do not have the means to pay the mortgage with out him.

YaTalkinToMe Sat 07-Feb-15 08:45:29

Gamcare online also have forums for partners of gamblers- it can help to have a look through these and not feel you are the only person dealing with this, there are also many people who have been through/are going through this- you can read there stories/advice.
Be careful about sorting it all yourself, I can imagine especially if he is unwell you want to support him- but remember to support and let him sort also, this is part on the process of recovery to me.
He says he has seen what is the problem, he now needs to go through the process of sorting it also.
You are absolutely right to be looking into how to protect yourself.
As a temp measure you could have his bank card, and you give him the money he needs (for essentials), he needs to provide receipts- gradually your control over the account reduces (no receipts/he has card for a period), this does put extra responsibility onto you for a short period and I don't personally see it could be a long term solution (I know others do this long term).
Has he looked into or does he understand what his gambling triggers were/are? Emotional and any others.
Like a smoker may avoid certain situations for a while at the start whilst stopping, he may need to look into the same.
Is it only online? If shops also, he can ban himself from them (go into each shop and speak to them).
He needs to understand, that he has massively breached your trust, so needs to be doing (in reason), whatever you want to help you through this.

Best wishes and look after yourself.

MinceSpy Sat 07-Feb-15 09:04:36

Gambling is an addiction and will never be cured. He can with effort control it with professional help.
Before you speak to any of the debtors contact Stepchange, the government confidential debt advisors. Put the phone on loudspeaker as your husband needs to be present. Don't let him avoid responsibility for this mess by off loading the responsibility on to you.
Isolate yourself from as much of his debt as possible and take whatever steps possible to protect the house and your credit rating.
Depending on the size of the debts a repayment plan, debt relief order or even personal bankruptcy may be advised. Your husband should open a simple bank account with a different bank. If he's serious about stopping gambling he should give you his bank card and you give him a small weekly allowance taken from that account.
Both of you should contact Gamcare as they support addicts and loved ones.
Take time to consider your feelings ect.

Bearbehind Sat 07-Feb-15 09:40:59

OP, you wouldn't be able to get the house and mortgage in your name only unless you can fully support the repayments.

Speak to a solicitor as there might be something else that can be done.

talkinpeace was suggesting you could try to reduce the debt by claiming you lied to get it but that it a very, very stupid big step.

Firstly you'd ruin your husbands credit rating and in turn yours ( this might happened anyway if you can't pay the debts) but secondly, unless you did actually claim it fraudulently or were genuinely missold it, it won't work anyway- I'm sure lots of people would like to walk away from their debts by saying they didn't know what they were doing.

Can you afford to repay the debts between you (his £200 a month doesn't sound like it will scratch the surface)? If you are going to repay tens of thousands it will mean some serious cut backs.

If you do want to write off some of the debts because you can't afford to pay them there are options such as debt management plans.

hadabigshocktoday Sat 07-Feb-15 10:42:26

Hi all, I have checked his credit report this morning, and he has told me the truth about what he owes. Weirdly his credit rating is still excellent (what?) because he has not defaulted. I have told him in no uncertain terms that this is his responsibility to repay. However as you say the repayments have reached the point where he can no longer afford them and has built up an overdraft paying them which is now maxed. He has already said he would transfer his allowance to pay it but this also leaves a shortfall. He has had a payrise at work which he lied about so his proposal is that he continues to pay with that (I don't agree but haven't formulated my terms - that is if I decide to stay and I have by no means decided). The thing that scares me about it is that his mum has given him £20,000 to help get him back on track but he has gambled that too - not a good sign. I will look at Gamcare later in and see if I can get some help. Trying to keep going for our daughter today just taking her out now. Thanks

If I decided to stay and help I wondered if I could put the mortgage/house into my name and as part of that release enough equity to repay enough of the debt to make the monthly payments more manageable for his allowance. With the agreement that once he has repaid all of it in full (including the loan which will take years and will not be possible if he continues to gamble his allowance) then he can go back on to the deeds etc.

He really does (to my untrained eye) seem to be at Rock bottom. He doesnt seem to be in denial, but obviously something like this is a lifelong battle.

Bearbehind Sat 07-Feb-15 10:54:41

If I decided to stay and help I wondered if I could put the mortgage/house into my name and as part of that release enough equity to repay enough of the debt to make the monthly payments more manageable for his allowance

I very much doubt this will be possible for lots of reasons-

1) A lot of lenders won't lend for debt consolidation purposes

2) If you did find one that would you would need to prove your earnings can support it. As you are self employed you'd need 2 years audited accounts for most lenders and not a penny of your husbands income could be considered- could you afford the mortgage including the increase in payments for the debts

3) lenders are not likely to be comfortable with your husband continuing to live in the property but effectively having passed his interest in it to you.

Clutterbugsmum Sat 07-Feb-15 10:57:27

He has not hit rock bottom, he still has a family to come home too, he still has food and a warm bed to come home to.

The only thing that has happen is that he can not get any more funds to gamble with.

MinceSpy Sat 07-Feb-15 11:01:08

No don't increase the mortgage to pay off his debt, really please don't. If you can take on the mortgage on your own then fine but get professional advice first.
Put bluntly if you bail him out and do everything for him he will feel no consequences and carry on gambling. If his mum knew and kept it secret from you that's a whole other issue.
Professional I work with gambling addicts, he hasn't hit rock bottom, he's trying to find ways of minimising responsibility for his mess.
You and he need professional advice please contact Stepchange.

AcrossthePond55 Sat 07-Feb-15 14:15:26

If he has not done so, he needs to admit to his mother that he blew the money she gave him on gambling. That is an important part of his recovery. He must own up to everybody that he's wronged or deceived.

To get the house in your name and then release equity for HIS debt would only result in YOU assuming part of his debt on paper. Not a wise move, IMO. You need to keep yourself as 'debt free' as possible. Again I don't know the UK legalities regarding spousal liabilities for debts accrued by one partner during a marriage.

You need to see a solicitor right away.

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