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3 kinds of conduct that could be considered dissipation of marital assets

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | Marital Property Division

Property division matters are often a source of anxiety and uncertainty for those preparing for divorce. Unless they already have clear arrangements with their spouses, they may be unsure of what may happen with marital resources and marital debts during a divorce.

In general, no-fault divorce proceedings prevent a judge from considering the marital misconduct of either spouse when making key decisions about a divorce. However, financial misconduct can directly influence the property division process.

Several different types of economic misconduct can impact how a judge divides marital property during a divorce. Dissipation of marital assets is one of the more common reasons for judges to make adjustments to property division decisions. The following types of behavior could constitute the actionable dissipation of marital property under a variety of circumstances.

Wasteful spending

Some people preparing for divorce go on vindictive shopping sprees. They borrow the maximum amount of available on lines of credit before purchasing items for their own use, or they empty a savings account doing something similar. Particularly when it is clear that such financial behavior is outside of someone’s normal conduct, their spouse may have grounds to claim that their intention was the dissipation of marital property.

The destruction of marital resources

Sometimes, one spouse is angry about the divorce and uses property as a way to punish their partner. For example, some people might intentionally destroy computers and video game consoles when they blame digital entertainment for the decline of the marital relationship. Other times, they might sell marital property to other people for a tiny fraction of the fair market value of those assets. Any attempt to diminish the marital holding to deprive a spouse of the value of those assets could potentially constitute dissipation.

Resources wasted on an affair

Conducting an extramarital affair typically isn’t cheap. People acquire hidden phones so that their spouses can’t see their messages from an affair partner. They may pay for romantic dates or rooms at hotels. Those costs can quickly add up to thousands of dollars, and often people use marital income or marital credit cards to cover those expenses.

When someone has proof that their spouse has intentionally diminished marital holdings or used marital property for a purpose that damaged the relationship, they could ask a judge to consider that misconduct when dividing their resources. As such, being able to identify marital dissipation may help people pursue justice during their divorce proceedings.