Keeping Your Family Strong--Even Through Divorce

Wasteful Dissipation: What You Need To Know

by Kristen Wright

For many couples, one of the most contentious subjects is money. If you choose to get a divorce and money was a major sticking point for that decision, bad money management can make the divorce process increasingly more difficult. When one spouse spends large amounts of money that is part of the marital assets, it can cause a problem. In some states, this is known as wasteful dissipation, and the court can take action in serious cases. Here is what you need to know:

What Is Wasteful Dissipation?

In some marital relationships, one spouse may decide to spend extraordinarily high amounts of money. In equitable distribution states, asset distribution is done in a way that is as fair as possible to both spouses. If one spouse has spent frivolously and without regard to the other, this is known as wasteful dissipation. A judge will attempt to create balance during the divorce by awarding the non-spending spouse with more assets during the divorce.

When Does Wasteful Dissipation Happen?

A judge will choose to balance out the assets in this way only in cases of severe wasteful dissipation. This does not mean if one spouse purchased an expensive handbag or a piece of sporting equipment without notifying the other. It has to be proven that the money was willfully spent without regard for the other spouse or the money spent did not benefit from the purchase.

Some examples of wasteful dissipation may include money spent on excessive alcohol use or partying, selling a property for under current market value, regular gambling, purchasing an expensive gift during an extramarital affair, and the like.

How Can You Prove Wasteful Dissipation?

If you want to demonstrate wasteful dissipation to a judge during your divorce, you have to show that you have not tolerated this spending behavior during your marriage. You need to show the spending was not customary in your marriage until more recently. You will need to discuss your concerns with your divorce attorney who can begin to investigate spending patterns. At this time, your attorney will comb through the spending and create an argument on your behalf that your spouse spent money in a way in which you did not benefit.

If you think your spouse spent so much money that it constitutes wasteful dissipation, you need to begin gathering receipts, bank accounts, and other pieces of evidence to help support your claim. Your attorney will guide you and explain what you need to have to move forward.

To learn more, reach out to a local divorce attorney.