Attorneys Pepi Camerlingo and Jen Parks

Trusted Guides For Complex Family Matters

2 types of marital asset dissipation

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2023 | Divorce

While most people go into a marriage expecting it to last, life has a way of not always working out.

One issue that parties may encounter during a divorce proceeding is “dissipation” of marital assets.  Dissipation, as defined by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act is the use of marital property for one’s sole benefit for a purpose unrelated to the marriage, while the marriage is experiencing or undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.  Dissipation can manifest in various forms but some of the key indicators of a spouse’s intentional undermining marital assets include the following:

1. Overspending recklessly / increase in lifestyle expenditures

An uncharacteristic increase in a spouse’s spending habits, particularly on expenditures for leisure, entertainment, and other lifestyle purchases (dining out, travel and/or vacations, clothes, gambling, adult entertainment, frequent cash withdrawals) may be reason to take a closer look at your financial records to determine if a claim for dissipation needs to be filed. After all, when a spouse has historical spending habits during the entirety of the marriage, and then begins to demonstrate spending habits that are entirely new or different, during the pendency of a divorce, he or she is in turn creating a distorted picture of what the marital estate actually is.

2. Selling assets and/or moving money outside of known marital accounts

In some instances, a spouse will try to hide, remove, or relocate assets to reduce the value of a marital estate. If you notice large withdrawals of funds leaving marital accounts, with no explanation of where the funds went, it is best to alert your attorney to the curious conduct so your attorney can take steps to account for all funds moving in and out of the marital estate and restrain further depletion of the marital estate if necessary and appropriate under the circumstances.

It is important to note that it is spouse alleging dissipation that first has the burden to make a preliminary showing that dissipation has occurred before the burden shifts to the spouse charged with dissipation to refute the accusations. If the burden shifts to the spouse charged with dissipation, then he or she must prove by clear and convincing evidence how any such funds were spent.

There are other requirements to filing a proper Notice of Intent to Claim Dissipation, as set forth in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. If you believe dissipation may be an issue in your matter, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss further.