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Ask Paul: My partner is an alcoholic with a gambling problem

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Dear Paul,

I would like to buy a small unit or house in the near future. I had a workplace accident five years ago and am waiting to receive an impairment compensation payout because, unfortunately, I cannot work again.

Payments cease this week and I will have to apply for the pension as I am 66 years old. I have $200,000 in superannuation, substantial savings and no debt.

ask paul contact paul clitheroe my husband is an alcoholic gambler

After a marriage breakdown 29 years ago, I lost custody of my two children, then nine and 12, who relocated to Queensland with their father.

I spent a great deal of money in the Family Court fighting for sole custody of the children over many years and paid child support until they were 18.

I've since remarried, and we are renting as my husband cannot handle money and has no savings.

My husband pays our rent; I pay all utility bills and contents/life insurance, buy food and maintain my own car. He is an alcoholic and a heavy smoker with a severe gambling addiction.

Am I able to purchase something, pay cash and in my name only? - Jenna

Oh dear, Jenna. This sounds really awful. Heavy smoking is far from ideal, but an alcoholic, addicted gambler sounds like hard going to me.

You are smart to hold your savings in your own name; we both know where they would go otherwise.

Yes, you can indeed use your substantial savings to purchase a home in your name. I would leave the money you have in super right where it is, provided of course it is in a large, well-managed, low-cost fund.

The money is safe there and less accessible than the savings you have in your name.

I can't make any comment on your relationship and its longevity, but you should note if it was to fail that any of your assets would become part of a separation settlement.

The timing of the compensation payout may also impact on your plans to buy a home.

Naturally, I would support your decision to get an aged pension.

This would take pressure off your existing assets and assist you to keep them intact. One thing is for sure: I really would like you to own a home. As we age, the security in living in a home we own is very high.

Need to talk?
1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732
Al-Anon: 1300 ALANON (1300 252 666)
Gambler's Help:
 1800 858 858

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Paul Clitheroe AM is founder and editorial adviser of Money magazine. He is one of Australia's leading financial voices, responsible for bringing financial insight to Australians through personal finance books, the television show Money, radio, and most notably this publication, which he established in 1999. Paul is the chair of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and is Chairman of InvestSMART Financial Services. He is the chair of Financial Literacy at Macquarie University where he is also a Professor with the School of Business and Economics. Click here to email Paul your money question. Unfortunately Paul cannot respond to questions posted in the comments section.
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