When married couples divorce, they have to separate their finances. Property division can be straightforward when couples already agree about what is appropriate or fair. It could also become a nightmare in scenarios where one spouse wants to punish the other financially.
The dissipation of marital assets is intentionally or wastefully reducing marital property during or just before a divorce. What kind of behavior might constitute dissipation?
Giving away or destroying marital property
If your spouse throws a bunch of your belongings out in the street, ruining them or resulting in people stealing them, they may be responsible for the value of the property they damaged or lost. The same is true when they give away property directly to people they know. Intentional destruction or wasting of assets to prevent you from claiming them is textbook dissipation.
Building up debt
Some people take the opposite approach to financially punishing their spouse in a divorce. Rather than giving away property, they build a significant amount of debt. If your ex spent thousands of dollars on spa days or bought a new motorcycle right before divorcing you, the courts may exclude those debts from your marital estate when dividing your property.
Wasting money on an affair
Dissipation can also involve the use of marital resources for a purpose contrary to the support of the marital relationship. Spending income earned during a marriage on an affair is an act of dissipation. The courts may allow you to hold your ex accountable for whatever they spent on restaurant meals, hotel rooms and gifts for their affair partner.
Identifying signs of dissipation can help you push for a fair solution to property division matters in your divorce.