Is it possible to have the state put my wife in a rehabilitation institution for gambling?

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Is it possible to have the state put my wife in a rehabilitation institution for gambling?

My wife is a compulsive gambler and has lost a lot of money; she spends every night out gambling. She recently stole 2 checks from my check book, forged my signature and cashed them for a total of $2,700. I have to stop this behavior and hope the state sent her to a rehabilitation institution. She can not stop.

Asked on August 17, 2011 Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, it is almost certainly not possible to do this. The standard for involuntary committment of a person is that he or she must pose a danger--a physical danger; of injury harm, death, etc.--to him- or herself. Economic or emotional harm does not count. Or alternately, sometimes an adult can be declared incompetent and another adult given control over his or her affairs and medical treatment, but that typically only occurs if the person is incompetent--and an addiction, by itself, would not rise to that level.

You may only have three choices:

1) Report your wife to the police for theft; they may arrest her, and if she is convicted, she may be forced into an intervention program as an alternative to imprisonment (especially if she has no previous criminal convictions)--but she could also end up being imprisoned, or alternately, having no penalty. It depends on what the police do, what the prosecutor recommends, and what the judge thinks is appropriate, and once you start this, you have little control over the outcome.

2) Live with the problem while trying to convince your wife to voluntarily accept treatment or help.

3) Divorce her, if she is destroying or in danger of destroying your life.

I believe there are support groups for  the spouses of addicts, including gambling addicts; you may wish to find such a group and attend some meetings; people there may be able to give you advice, support, and recommendations. Good luck.


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