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What is "Wasteful Dissipation" of Marital Assets?

In a divorce, the most frequently fought over issue is, of course, money. Whether financial problems were the primary cause of the divorce, or your spouse made a habit of hiding assets, and spending recklessly, there is no doubt money can be a force to be reckoned with for divorcing couples, causing the process to draw out much longer than it should. If you believe your spouse might be wasting marital funds, or you have evidence to support this suspicion, you might be incredibly frustrated about your situation. You are not powerless against this, however. With a skilled divorce attorney, you might be able to obtain a fair divorce settlement despite your spouse’s wasteful habits.

When a Spouse Wastes Marital Funds

In a marriage, spouses often have strong financial control over marital funds, especially when they have joint bank accounts and credit accounts. This gives spouses the ability to access each other’s debit and credit card numbers as well as online banking information. Having this kind of unchecked access makes it easy to make payments with a spouse’s account even if the other’s name is not on it. This kind of conduct inevitably leads to marital conflict, particularly when the financial transactions in question are not agreed upon by both spouses.

During divorce proceedings, the court will consider all contributions both spouses made to the marriage as well as wasted assets, or negative contributions, to ensure the resulting settlement is fair.

What is Dissipation?

Dissipation simply refers to a spouse’s concealment or waste of marital assets in anticipation of a divorce. This does not necessarily mean a spouse was behaving recklessly and spent a good chunk of the marital assets. Some spouses spend wastefully as a form of revenge, to prevent the other spouse from getting his or her fair share when it comes to the matter of asset and property division. Regardless of how the assets are wasted, however, there are certain ways in which the court determines whether or not an expenditure qualifies as frivolous or wasteful dissipation. This includes:

  • Excessive gambling
  • Intentionally failing to preserve assets, such as allowing a home to go into foreclosure by not paying the mortgage
  • Spending excessively on drugs, alcohol, or partying
  • Purchasing lavish gifts or wasting funds on an extramarital affair
  • Selling a property or business interest for a substantially low or less than fair value

Making a Convincing Claim of Dissipation of Assets

To convince the court that marital property was wastefully dissipated, there are a couple of arguments that can assist in supporting your claim:

  • The amount spent is substantial: If only a small amount was wasted, it is not likely you will achieve much. For example, if your husband purchased flowers for his girlfriend, this will not be considered wasteful dissipation. On the other hand, if he took her skiing in the Swiss Alps on your dime, this could certainly be considered wasteful dissipation.
  • The spending is both frivolous and unusual: If you condoned your spouse’s spending in the past, such as his or her penchant for collecting expensive antiques, you might not be able to claim it is wasteful just because you are now concerned about your share of marital assets.

These claims can be difficult to prove on your own, but with the assistance of a skilled and experienced attorney who can effectively and thoroughly investigate your financial situation, it is possible to succeed in your claim against your spouse. Wasteful dissipation creates an unfair playing field for the innocent spouse, but thankfully, when proven, courts are willing to consider this conduct and divide assets and property accordingly.

Illinois Property Division Attorneys

If you are in the midst of a divorce and are concerned your spouse is frivolously spending marital assets, it is crucial to obtain a skilled divorce attorney as soon as possible. At Wakenight & Associates, P.C., our attorneys are well-versed in our state’s divorce laws and will be able to ensure your asset distribution plan is fair and beneficial to you. This issue is often highly-contested and complicated, which is why you should not go through it alone. To ensure your rights are protected, choose a trusted law firm that is committed to achieving the best possible outcome on your behalf.

To speak with an Illinois property division attorney at Wakenight & Associates, P.C., contact us today at (888) 351-2843 for a free consultation. Nothing is more important than your family and finances.

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