Family, Criminal & Children's Court Attorneys Since 1991

3 behaviors that could constitute dissipation of marital assets

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Property Division |

Divorce has a way of bringing out the worst behavior in people. Individuals who have previously treated each other with respect and affection may become cruel and malicious toward one another during a divorce.

Someone who has previously shared generously with their spouse may come to resent the expectation of sharing resources during and after a divorce. Those angry about the financial implications of an upcoming divorce sometimes act out by engaging in economic misconduct.

One of the more common forms of financial misconduct before and during a divorce involves the intentional dissipation of marital resources. Dissipation involves wasteful destruction or misuse, like the three behaviors introduced below.

Spending money on an affair

One of the most common reasons that people raise claims of dissipation in a divorce is the discovery of an extramarital affair. Spending marital income to pay for a second cell phone or hotel rooms to hide adultery from a spouse means using marital resources for a purpose that actively damages the relationship. Debts accrued while conducting an affair and marital property or income wasted on the affair could constitute dissipation.

Destroying or giving away marital property

People sometimes use marital resources as a way to punish their spouses in the early stages of divorce. Many people have heard stories about one spouse giving away the property of the other or throwing their treasured personal belongings in the trash. Others may have heard about so-called divorce garage sales, where one spouse hands out marital property to eager buyers for a tiny percentage of their actual fair market value. Actions that intentionally diminish the marital estate including attempts at spousal punishment, may constitute dissipation.

Frivolous spending

Sometimes, people preparing for divorce try to manipulate their financial situation by spending a large amount of money. They might max out credit cards or even open new lines of credit. They could also empty checking and savings accounts to purchase items that they don’t actually need.

Dissipation during a divorce can drastically alter the value of a marital estate and may, therefore, influence property division terms. Individuals aware of how one spouse might try to unfairly reduce marital resources can better fight back against such tactics during their divorce proceedings. Being able to recognize financial misconduct is the first step toward fighting it successfully.