What is 'Wasteful Dissipation' of Marital Assets?

When a couple divorces, they will divide their shared assets. When a divorce is less-than-amicable, it is possible that one spouse may spend money on wasteful things so the other cannot gain the money in the divorce settlement. Hiding or concealing assets is a common behavior in divorce cases, but others may waste the money to avoid giving it to the other spouse. Whether this waste is an intentional denial of assets to the other spouse or the side effect of poor financial habits, wasting shared assets can have consequences in divorce court.

Wasteful dissipation of marital assets is the term used to refer to occurrences when one spouse wastefully spends shared money, loses shared marital property, or conceals assets in anticipation of a divorce. Examples of wasteful dissipation can include gambling, spending money on extra-marital affairs, intentionally failing to preserve marital assets (such as allowing the couple's home to go into foreclosure), or spending money on drugs, alcohol, or partying. The spouse wasting assets may be attempting to deny their soon-to-be-ex-spouse access to the assets, may be exacting revenge over the divorce, or maybe losing assets as a result of habits that are contributing to the end of the marriage. Generally, a transaction can be declared as wasteful dissipation if it benefits solely the spouse who made the transaction and it was a "frivolous" expenditure. Dissipation can occur before divorce proceedings as well and can constitute a reason for divorce.

When courts are considering the division of marital assets, they will take a number of factors into account. The court will weigh positive contributions, such as financial contributions and homemaker contributions, against negative contributions, such as wasteful dissipation, to come to the decision about equitable distribution of marital assets. Many courts will look unfavorably on the spouse that has wasted assets, and often they will be granted a lesser share of the assets when the distribution is made.

If your spouse has been wastefully spending money or jeopardizing other marital assets, you can dispute their claim to your shared assets. Our Richmond divorce and family law attorneys can help you prove wasteful dissipation has occurred, and we will fight for your best interests in your case. Contact DeFazio Bal to learn more about how we can help or schedule a case evaluation.

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