What Can I Do if My Spouse Wastes Assets?
Couples do not just wake up one day and decide to divorce. There are indications that spouses are growing apart and that dissolution of the marriage is inevitable, which usually develop in the weeks and months before filing divorce paperwork. During this period of irretrievable breakdown, one spouse may be tempted to destroy or waste marital assets—often out of spite and with the view that destruction of property is preferable to letting the other person have it.
Dissipation of marital assets is a serious matter, so you should discuss your situation with an Illinois divorce lawyer right away if you suspect wrongdoing.
Legal Definition of Dissipation of Assets
Dissipation occurs when one spouse uses property for a purpose unrelated to the marital relationship and at a time that the marriage is irretrievably breaking down. The period of breakdown is not typically a single moment, but rather a series of developments that indicate the marriage is coming to an end. The unrelated purpose element is a case-by-case analysis, but examples may be:
- Trips with or gifts to a person with whom a spouse is having an extramarital relationship;
- Gambling away funds; or,
- Hiding or destroying assets so these items will not be included in a property division.
Consequences for Spouse That Dissipates
A spouse that dissipates assets will be required to return the property or reimburse the marital estate in an amount representing the value of the item. If that individual is unable to repay the amount or return the asset—usually because it has been destroyed—an adjustment is made to account for that value. For instance, if the spouse dissipated $50,000 worth of assets and cannot reimburse the marital estate, that amount is treated as if it was not expended. Then, when making a property division, the value is attributed to the spouse that spent the funds, thereby reducing his or her share by $50,000.
Making a Claim for Dissipation
Under the statute, you can file a claim for dissipation that states the relevant facts related to the misconduct, including the duration of the irretrievable breakdown and details on the property that was dissipated. You must file a notice with the court at least 60 days before trial or within 30 days after discovery closes in a divorce case.
Reach Out to an Experienced Divorce Attorney Today
Time is of the essence when your spouse is wasting, damaging, or hiding real or personal property in violation of law. Illinois law takes dissipation of assets very seriously during a period where the marriage is suffering an irretrievable breakdown, and you cannot afford to wait until after the fact to address this conduct.
A qualified divorce attorney with experience in contentious divorce cases can help you protect these assets from destruction or waste, thereby enabling a fair and equitable division of marital property. For more information on what to do if you suspect dissipation of assets, please contact the passionate DuPage County family lawyers at Davi Law Group, LLC today.