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We Are Getting Divorced and My Spouse Is Spending All Our Money!

Posted on in Divorce

dissipation, wasting assets, Illinois family law attorneyOnce a couple has decided to separate or divorce, there will obviously be some expected costs. Often, the separation period currently required under Illinois law will force one spouse to find a new place, incurring expenses for rent, utilities, and day-to-day living. You and your soon-to-be ex may also spend money on counseling services, legal fees, and other incidentals, in preparation of or in reaction to the process of divorce. Sometimes, however, one or both spouses will use marital funds for other purposes while the dissolution is pending, which may be considered dissipation, depending on the circumstances.

Dissipated Assets

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers defines dissipation as "the use of marital property or funds for the benefit of one spouse for a purpose unrelated to the marriage." The caveat is that, in order to be dissipation, such use must occur while the marital relationship is irreconcilably breaking down, or after it has broken down completely. For example, a spouse in the midst of an otherwise healthy marriage who spends money on a lavish vacation with his or her friends may be guilty of misusing family money, but not dissipation. That same vacation taken as the marriage is falling apart may, in fact, be dissipation.

Making a Claim of Dissipation

Dissipated property can directly impact the asset division process in divorce, and is one of the statutorily defined considerations in the law governing the proceedings. Any money or assets found to have been dissipated will need to be repaid to the marital estate by the offending party, or otherwise offset during allocation. If you believe your spouse has been spending money frivolously on things unrelated to your marriage, you may present a dissipation claim to the court. You will need to show several elements:

  • The beginning of your martial breakdown: This is important as it expressly identifies a point after which dissipation may be considered, but you will need to provide evidence of the breakdown and when it began;
  • When the assets were allegedly dissipated: If the spending occurred before the marital breakdown, your claim will likely be denied.
  • The assets that were spent or devalued: A specific amount or value of property is necessary. This can include cash, credit card expenditures, or real estate that was impacted by the actions of your spouse.
  • The purpose of the spending: Common dissipation claims include gambling, money spent on adulterous affairs, and uncharacteristic gifts. Assets spent on marital concerns or reasonable personal expenses are not considered to have been dissipated.

Keep in mind that certain spending may be accounted for in other ways too. For example, if your spouse used your joint savings to buy a new car, a dissipation claim may not be necessary. The car, by law, is still marital property and subject to division.

Financial and property concerns are often among the most difficult in any divorce situation. That is why is important to enlist the assistance of an experienced Arlington Heights divorce attorney. At our law firm, we believe that every client deserves high-quality representation and responsible legal advice from a professional who cares. Contact A. Traub & Associates for an appointment today and put our compassionate team to work for you.

Sources:

Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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