Divorce is always challenging and painful, and the financial aspects don’t make it any easier. One issue that commonly arises is wasteful dissipation. This is an unscrupulous, willful attempt to waste money before the divorce finalizes.
In this article, we explore the steps you can take to prove intentional, wasteful spending in your divorce, and we discuss the benefits of exploring this allegation.
What Is Wasteful Dissipation?
Wasteful dissipation refers to a spouse's reckless, willful spending of marital funds. Typically, this spending occurs before either spouse files for divorce.
When a spouse commits wasteful dissipation, they are not accumulating property. The entire point is to simply have less money left over after the divorce. The spouse’s goal is to leave the other with little to divide. Generally, wasteful dissipation is a spiteful practice. The guilty spouse is simply trying to hurt the other. They are not necessarily going to gain anything from it.
Dissipation of funds can significantly impact the outcome of the divorce settlement. Courts frown upon this practice, as it undermines the equitable distribution of marital property.
If you can prove that the other party has been dissipating marital assets, the court may award you a larger share of the remaining marital estate.
Examples of Wasteful Dissipation
Wasteful dissipation is simply an attempt to “blow money.” If someone buys a lot of new property, those assets can still be divided in the divorce.
Therefore, wasteful dissipation involves spending money on things like:
- Lavish vacations
- Alcohol or drugs
- Extramarital affairs
- Expensive nights out
Gathering Evidence of Wasteful Dissipation
When it comes to documenting wasteful dissipation, keep a detailed record of any suspicious expenses.
This could include:
- Credit card bills
- Bank statements
- Receipts that show excessive spending
- Any evidence that shows an abrupt change in marital finances
With the help of a good attorney, you can prove that the spending was intentional and harmful. They may be able to help you find a forensic accountant who can join your investigation.
Financial Records That Show a Pattern of Unnecessary Spending
- Start by going through your bank statements and credit card bills to identify recurring expenses and other money outflows.
- Keep track of cash transactions and payments made with debit cards or other methods outside of traditional banking channels.
- Consider creating a spreadsheet or using a budgeting app to track and categorize each expense.
- Look for patterns and trends in spending habits, such as frequent restaurant visits or impulse purchases.
This information can help create a comprehensive picture of spending habits and build a case for wasteful dissipation.
Potential Consequences of Wasteful Dissipation
Unequal Asset Division
If a spouse spends a significant amount of money irresponsibly, a court may consider this behavior when determining dividing property. It may award a larger portion of the assets to the other spouse as compensation.
A court could impose financial penalties on the spouse who engaged in wasteful dissipation. This could include requiring the wasteful spouse to reimburse the other for the wasted assets or pay additional financial support.
Increased Conflict and Litigation
Wasteful dissipation can lead to increased conflict and bitterness between divorcing spouses. The non-wasteful spouse may feel betrayed or cheated, leading to more contentious negotiations and potentially prolonging the divorce process.
Impact on Child Support and Alimony
Wasteful dissipation can also affect child support and alimony. If one spouse has squandered marital resources, it can increase the other’s need for support.
Marital Misconduct Considerations
Wasteful dissipation may be considered a form of marital misconduct, which can have implications for other aspects of the divorce, such as custody arrangements or spousal support.
If you are worried that your spouse has squandered the marital assets, or if you’ve been wrongfully accused of wasteful dissipation, Masella Law Firm, P.A. is here to help. Contact us for a consultation. You can use our online contact form or call us directly at (803) 938-4952.