What is “Wasteful Dissipation” of Marital Assets?

One of the most highly contested issues in a divorce is money. Whether finances were the primary cause that ultimately led to your divorce, or they emerged as an issue once you began the process of unlinking your lives, marital assets are almost never a minor element in a divorce case. Money can particularly become an issue if one spouse is a reckless spender. If you believe that your soon-to-be ex-spouse is wasting marital funds, you are likely feeling quite frustrated. However, you are not helpless. With proper legal counsel on your side, you can still obtain the divorce settlement you deserve, despite the wasteful spending habits of your spouse.

What Does it Mean When a Spouse Wastes Marital Funds?

It is not uncommon for spouses to have joint bank accounts and credit accounts, allowing them both to wield control over marital funds. In theory, this should work in a marriage where there is trust and open communication, but unfortunately, this type of unchecked access makes it incredibly easy for spouses to make financial transactions without consulting one another. If this played a factor in your divorce, keep in mind that the court will consider wasted assets and negative contributions when the time comes to divide assets.

What is Dissipation?

In this context, dissipation refers to a spouse’s concealment or the waste of marital assets in anticipation of a divorce to prevent the other spouse from receiving his or her fair share. To the court, there is a big difference between a spouse who frivolously spends and a spouse who spends as a form of revenge. To determine if a spouse is engaging in wasteful dissipation, the court will look for certain red flags that could indicate this behavior:

  • Excessive gambling
  • Failing to preserve assets on purpose, such as not paying the mortgage on a home
  • Spending vast sums of money on drugs, alcohol, or partying
  • Buying extravagant gifts and wasting marital funds on an extramarital affair
  • Selling real estate or a business at a less than fair value

Convincing the Court

To convince the court that your spouse is, in fact, wastefully dissipating marital assets, there are some arguments you can make to support your claim:

  • The amount of money spent is substantial: If a small amount of money was wasted, the chances of you successfully proving that your spouse wastefully dissipated assets will be slim. If your spouse bought a small gift, such as flowers, for a new lover, this would not be wasteful dissipation since the amount would be rather negligible. However, if your spouse took his or her new lover on a skiing trip in the Swiss Alps and it was on your dime, this could surely qualify as wasteful dissipation.
  • The spending habits are unusual and frivolous: If you had previously condoned your spouse’s spending habits, you would likely be unable to claim that his or her spending habits are wasteful dissipation simply because you are now going through a divorce. If these spending habits only began to occur once you began the process of divorce, you could stand a good chance of proving that your spouse is wastefully dissipating assets.

Of course, attempting to prove this claim on your own is an incredibly difficult feat, which is why it is crucial to seek skilled legal representation.

Divorce in Newport Beach

Divorce can get complicated, especially when it comes to the issue of marital assets. That is why it is crucial for you to obtain experienced legal counsel. At Burch Shepard Family Law Group, our team of attorneys in Newport Beach is backed by over 130 years of experience and a proven track record of success. You can be confident in our ability to protect your interests and effectively navigate you throughout this process.

Get started on your case today and contact our law office at (949) 565-4158 to request your initial case evaluation.