Family Law for Real Housewives: Lessons from Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler’s performance in Uncut Gems is spot on. The film centers around a jeweler in New York’s diamond district and explores the crushing impact of a gambling addiction. 

The movie strongly resonated with me because of the numerous clients I have seen over the years grappling with the severe consequences of gambling. Whether it is sports betting, online gaming sites, bets at the horse tracks, casinos, or other venues, gambling can have a crippling effect on a family, marriage, and finances.

The proliferation of online sports betting has made wagering much more accessible. It is no longer a novelty reserved for Vegas vacations or relegated to the underworld. Rather, online sports betting is now legal in multiple states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. As an illustration of the magnitude of the sports betting industry, over $4 billion in bets were placed in New Jersey in 2019. 

In some cases, gambling losses or the full extent of the problem is first exposed upon a divorce. The other spouse may be entitled to a credit for sums dissipated from gambling under a claim of marital waste. 

Spouses elect to manage their money in various ways. Some couples have all joint accounts or all individual accounts, while other couples maintain a combination of the two. Be sure to attend joint financial meetings with advisors. It also may be prudent in situations where couples have individual accounts to periodically exchange statements. Communication and transparency about finances during the marriage is key in order to try to avoid any surprises.