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Lombard divorce attorneysIdeally, every divorcing couple would be cooperative and amicable during the divorce proceedings and the time leading up to it. However, this is not how a large number of divorces go. Spouses are often at least partially resentful of each other or harbor negative feelings about their soon-to-be-ex. In most instances, these hostile feelings only result in a few sideways glances or muttered insults between the spouses. In more extreme circumstances, one spouse may try to “get even” or hurt the other spouse through excessive spending or squandering marital property. This wastefulness is called “dissipation of assets,” and Illinois courts take the matter very seriously.

What Exactly Does "Dissipation of Assets" Mean?

The concept of dissipation can be hard to understand. The formal definition of dissipation comes from the Illinois Supreme Court. Dissipation formally refers to “the use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time that the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.” In order to know if your spouse is guilty of dissipation, you need to determine what property has been misspent. Generally, marital property includes any property or income which was accumulated by either spouse during the marriage. So, if a spouse wasted money from a bank account which was used for shared expenses like bills and household expenses, he may be guilty of dissipation.

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Lombard divorce attorneysWhen a couple is getting divorced in Illinois, the law provides that all of the couple’s marital property should be divided in a manner that is fair and just. To determine a “fair and just” allocation of assets, the court will take many factors into account, including each spouse’s age, health, and employability, as well as their contributions to the marital estate. The court must also consider any claims made by either spouse against the other regarding dissipation of marital assets.

What Is Dissipation?

The Illinois Supreme Court established a definition for dissipation as “the use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time that the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.” Over the years, the state legislature has alternated between including and excluding non-marital property in its definition of dissipation. The most recent version of the law provides that only marital property can be dissipated.

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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.

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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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