Kroy Biermann, former NFL player for the Atlanta Falcons, has filed for divorce from Kim Zolciak, former star of Real Housewives of Atlanta and his wife of 11 years.
While Zolciak and Biermann have not made public statements about their split, their court documents are revealing. In the petition he filed on May 22nd, Biermann requests sole legal custody of their four children, ages 9-11. According to his plea, Zolciak developed a gambling addiction that “devastated” their family, including their children.
This gambling problem is documented elsewhere. Several years ago, Zolciak went on record bragging about losing $250,000 while gambling on vacation in the Bahamas in her TV show Don’t Be Tardy. The clip also shows her spending $1200 on scratch-off tickets. Biermann’s divorce petition also included scans of bank statements and other financial documents showing thousands of dollars in withdrawals by Zolciak above and beyond her normal spending.
Biermann has also requested that Zolciak undergo psychological testing for a variety of mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and depression. He argues that her current gambling problem may be connected to an underlying mental health issue and requested the testing to confirm whether or not she can safely raise their children.
Unfortunately, stories like this are all too common. Financial problems are one of the most common reasons for ending marriages nationwide. Disputes over spending are particularly common if one partner has a mental health condition that affects their judgment. Gambling is a particularly devastating problem, but compulsive shopping or hiding money can also cause marriages to break down.
If you are in a similar situation, you’re not alone. Couples divorce over financial disputes every day. Here’s what you should know about how spending habits can impact your divorce and how to handle it.
When Does Financial Misbehavior Lead to Divorce?
When your spending habits and budgeting preferences don’t line up with your spouse’s behavior, there may be a problem. However, there’s a gulf between different opinions and genuine financial misbehavior.
Disagreements are issues like having different saving and spending priorities. You may want to invest more for retirement, while your spouse wants to have more experiences or a nicer home today. Financial misbehavior, on the other hand, includes problems like:
- Gambling: Spending a little money gambling on vacation or buying lottery tickets isn’t a problem. However, if your spouse spends excessive amounts on gambling, especially if it affects your joint goals, they may have a problem.
- Compulsive shopping: When a behavior is compulsive, it means the person has little conscious control over what they’re doing. If your spouse frequently goes shopping to make themselves feel better, or if they seem like they’re constantly shopping or spending money even when it’s a bad idea, they might be a compulsive shopper.
- Secret spending: Many people with financial addictions or compulsions feel ashamed of their actions. They know they should stop, but they can’t. To make themselves feel better in the short term, they may try to hide what they’re doing from others, their spouses included. This can lead to secret credit cards, hiding receipts, and racking up debt that can affect your financial future.
This is the type of behavior that can cause couples to get divorced. If your spouse is hiding their spending from you, they could be doing irreparable harm to your shared future.
How to Divorce Someone Financially Irresponsible
Ending a marriage with someone who’s financially irresponsible leads to some unique considerations. You may not be able to reverse the harm they have already done to your bank account, but you can prevent things from getting worse. Here’s how to divorce your spendy spouse without causing yourself further problems:
- Create new accounts to which your spouse does not have access. While you cannot empty your joint accounts during a divorce, you can create new ones and direct your income to go there. This can help keep these assets safe from your spouse’s spending until you’re officially divorced.
- Get your credit report. If your spouse has taken out any credit cards or other loans in your name, they will appear on your report. So will any delinquent debts. This can help you identify the biggest issues you need to resolve during your split.
- Collect receipts, credit card statements, and bank records. The more evidence you have that your spouse’s spending didn’t serve you, the better. Gather important documents to show how your spouse’s financial misbehavior has harmed you to make a stronger case for treating their debts as separate property.
- File for divorce as soon as possible to get an ATRO. Once you separate from your spouse, you stop accruing joint debts and assets. If you file for divorce, you get an additional benefit: an ATRO. These orders bar your spouse from using your joint assets for expenses outside of normal living costs. If they do make excessive purchases, the resulting debts will be entirely their responsibility.
These tactics cannot undo any harm your spouse has done to your finances, but they can help you recover from those problems more quickly.
Seek Experienced High-Asset Legal Counsel
Couples with significant assets often struggle most when one spouse develops a financial addiction. If your spouse’s behavior has caused your relationship to break down, you need experienced help to untangle your marriage.At Kaspar & Lugay, LLP, we are ready to help you with your high-asset divorce. We have decades of experience with the financial complexities of marriages like yours. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you get the divorce you need and start your new life with a clean slate.