Dealing With a Spouse Who Wastes Marital Assets

For many couples in unhealthy relationships, the marriage is often over long before the divorce process even begins. The spouses may continue to live in the same house, possibly still sharing the same bed, but the marriage, in all reality, stands virtually no chance of being revived. While the marriage is breaking down or after the breakdown is complete, there are limitations provided by Illinois law as to how the spouse may spend money to avoid unfairly impacting the divorce proceedings.

Defining Dissipation

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, improperly spending or devaluing marital assets is known as dissipation. For example, if it is evident that a divorce is unavoidable, your spouse may begin drinking, gambling, or, in extreme cases, having an affair. Money spent on these type of activities is not being spent for the good of the marriage or for everyday living expenses and is likely to be considered dissipation.

The problem with dissipating property is that marital assets are required to be divided equitably during the divorce; if they are gone, they cannot be divided. That is why dissipation also includes the devaluing of marital assets. Examples of this type of dissipation include destroying property like artwork or furniture, or failing to make mortgage payments leading to foreclosure on the marital home.

Filing a Claim

In order for you to make the court aware of wasted or dissipated assets, you will need to file a notice of intent to claim dissipation specifying that your marriage had already begun to irreversibly break down and that your spouse spent or devalued certain assets after the date that the breakdown began. The burden of proof will then shift to your spouse to show that the expenditures were not dissipation. If the assets were found to be dissipated, the dissipating spouse will be required to reimburse the marital estate for the lost property.

You will not necessarily be entitled to receive all of the dissipated property. Instead, your spouse will be required to pay back the marital estate so that it can be properly allocated according to the guidelines of equitable distribution.

Contact a Will County Lawyer

If your marriage is rapidly heading toward a divorce and you believe your spouse is spending your marital property inappropriately, you need the assistance of an experienced Orland Park divorce attorney. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Kezy & Associates. We will work to ensure you get the equitable property settlement you deserve.