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Protecting your share of the marital assets from dissipation

If your spouse has a large income, but your earning potential is much lower, you may be counting on fair property division to put you in a more comfortable financial position. With your portion of the investments and retirement accounts, you should be safe, right?

Dissipation of assets could change all that.

What is dissipation of assets?

Dissipation is not the same as spending. Your spouse could be spending as if there is no tomorrow, and a judge may not agree that this is unfair to you. Forbes explains that you will have to prove that your spouse’s spending is substantial, frivolous and unusual.

How do you claim dissipation of assets?

In Illinois, you must claim dissipation 60 days or more before your divorce goes to court or no later than 30 days after the close of discovery, if that is later. You will have to explain in your claim when the breakdown of your marriage began, what property your spouse dissipated and the date or time period when the dissipation occurred.

So, for example, you may uncover a series of account statements that indicate your spouse has been spending money on a romantic relationship. The money spent on that relationship such as hotel stays and gifts may count as dissipation.

What can you do about dissipation of assets?

You can obtain a financial restraining order that keeps your spouse from transferring or disposing of assets other than what is necessary for business as usual and normal living expenses. During the property division phase of the divorce, a judge who determines that dissipation did occur may provide you with a larger share of the marital assets to balance out what you may have lost due to your spouse’s unethical behavior. You may also seek spousal maintenance.