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What is the dissipation of marital assets?

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2023 | Family Law

Married couples are generally supposed to divide their assets in a divorce. If they both have claim to those assets, one person can’t simply keep it for themselves. This includes things like bank accounts, investments, vehicles, homes, art collections and much more. 

In a contentious divorce, where one spouse doesn’t want to divide assets fairly, they will sometimes consider hiding assets. For instance, a person may transfer money to a family member with the understanding that that person will transfer it back after the divorce is finalized.

Another tactic to try to deprive an ex of the assets that they deserve is known as the dissipation of marital assets. This is a bit different than hiding assets, and it’s important to understand how it works.

Frivolous spending

The key thing to look for is any change in spending habits. If it seems that your spouse is suddenly spending money much more frivolously or loosely than they were before, it could be evidence that they’re trying to dissipate assets.

When someone dissipates shared assets, they are just trying to waste them or spend them down quickly. Maybe your spouse knows that they’ll be able to earn that money back after the divorce. But if they spend it in advance, there’s less to divide with you. For instance, your spouse may suddenly spend thousands of dollars traveling the world, trying to get the shared bank account balance as low as possible before declaring ownership to the court.  

If your spouse does this, they are trying to influence your share during the divorce, and that could be unfair when considering your property rights. Be sure you know what legal options you have.