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How Do Illinois Courts Address Wasted Marital Assets During Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce

Arlington Heights divorce attorneysWhen a married couple decides to divorce, they have two options for property division: the couple can decide how to split their marital estate or the courts can make this decision. Usually, court intervention is reserved for couples who cannot come to an agreement about how assets and debt should be divided. Illinois courts use a methodology called “equitable distribution” to fairly divide assets and debt between the parties in a divorce.

When one spouse wastes or recklessly depletes marital funds, this is referred to as “dissipation.” If you have concerns that your spouse has dissipated assets, you may be able to recover the cost of these assets during property division.  

What Are Dissipated Assets?

In the realm of family law, the term “dissipation” generally means to waste by misuse or to spend extravagantly. The Illinois Supreme Court has defined dissipation as one spouse using marital funds for purposes not related to the marriage while a marriage is in the midst of an “irretrievable breakdown.” Not just any spending is considered dissipative; the spending must take place during a certain timeframe. The superfluous spending must be substantial, not beneficial to the marriage, and it must take place after the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage has begun. This “breakdown” is generally considered to be the time when the couple has ceased attempts at reconciliation and when divorce is inevitable.

Examples of Dissipation or Misused Assets 

Dissipation during the breakdown of a marriage does not refer to general expenses like bills, mortgage payments, or groceries. One common example of dissipation occurs when a spouse has an addiction or compulsive spending problem. If a spouse spends a significant amount of marital money on a gambling or compulsive shopping addiction after the couple has decided to end the marriage, this would likely be considered dissipation. This is especially true if the other spouse attempted to stop the wasteful spouse from spending these funds.

Another example of dissipation occurs when a spouse spends marital funds during an affair. If it is proven that a spouse dissipated assets, the court may award a disproportionately larger amount of marital funds to the other spouse to account for the wasted assets. For example, if one spouse dissipated $10,000 worth of marital funds on a lavish vacation with a secret boyfriend or girlfriend, the other spouse could be awarded that $10,000 in addition to the property he or she is already receiving from the division of the marital estate.

Contact an Arlington Heights Dissipation Attorney

If you are getting divorced and you think your spouse has wasted marital funds, contact an experienced Palatine property division lawyer for help. To schedule a confidential consultation with a divorce professional from A. Traub & Associates, call our office today at 847-749-4182.




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