One of the main issues in any divorce is dividing a couple’s marital assets and property. Unfortunately, some divorces may be more heated than others, and this may motivate one spouse to harm the other’s financial outcomes by wasting money or failing to protect property. Conduct like this is referred to as wasteful dissipation, and it can have a significant impact on how property division is handled during a divorce.
Wasteful Dissipation & Divorce
Wasteful dissipation typically involves losing a large sum of money or a considerably valuable piece of property. The court will also take into account whether the wasteful behavior your spouse is engaged in is out of their usual character, and if the purchases are for their sole benefit.
For example, if your marriage broke apart because your spouse had a habit of spending a lot of money on gambling or luxury goods for themselves, the court might not consider it wasteful dissipation if this behavior continues during the divorce. If it is new behavior and a likely explanation is that your spouse is trying to run the joint bank account dry, then the court is likely to arrive at a different determination.
What Happens If the Court Determines Wasteful Dissipation Occurred?
If a judge decides that someone wastefully dissipated assets immediately before or during the divorce process, then the other spouse can end up with a greater amount of the marital assets. This isn’t to punish the spending spouse so much as it is to account for the losses they caused and provide the non-spending spouse with a fair share of the marital property.
Why Do People Waste Money & Property During Divorce?
Because divorce is all about dividing up what a couple shares, it may seem foolish to waste any money during this process. Of course, divorce can be a very emotionally complicated time where people are less likely to fully consider the consequences of their actions.
Here are some examples of wasteful dissipation:
- Spending with the intent to financially ruin the other spouse
- Intentionally missing mortgage payments to force a foreclosure of the family home
- Spending money on an extramarital affair
- Excessive spending on alcohol, recreational drugs, and partying
- Gambling marital assets
As previously mentioned, the assets wasted in any of these scenarios must be significant. A judge will likely be unwilling to consider the matter if a minimal amount of money was spent. A night at the penny slots with a $100 bill is unlikely to attract the same level of scrutiny as a $10,000 gambling loss or a tropical island vacation with a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
Do You Need Legal Support?
If you believe your spouse wasted marital assets, it’s crucial that you seek the representation of an experienced family law attorney. Our lawyers at Kallen Law Firm, LLC share more than 45 years of combined experience when it comes to advocating for people like you. We have what it takes to help you fight for a fair divorce settlement and get what you deserve from this process.