When it comes time to divide a marital estate, a judge in Illinois will look at several factors, including whether a spouse has wasted or foolishly spent money in such a way that it damages the marital estate. This is called dissipation of marital assets, and it will often come up in divorce cases where one spouse has spent or exhausted funds or property.
At the Law Offices of George M. Sanders, P.C., our Chicago dissipation of marital assets attorneys represent spouses who are concerned with making sure they receive a fair distribution in their divorce.
In Illinois, dissipation of marital assets can be defined as one spouse using marital property for a purpose unrelated to the marriage. This means that while you are separated or in the process of getting a divorce, you can pay for your standard living expenses. You can also spend money in a way that would benefit your children or a family member. You should avoid buying extravagant gifts for non-family members (including new boyfriends or girlfriends) or taking vacations that would be considered outside of your normal activities during the marriage.
To illustrate the dissipation concept, consider this basic example:
A couple has a $3,000 marital estate. An equitable division would mean that each spouse should receive $1,500, or half of the marital estate.
Out of the $3,000.00, the wife makes a claim that her husband dissipated the marital estate when he spend $1,000.00 on a fur coat for his new girlfriend. If the court agrees that this was wasteful spending, the husband’s share of the estate will be reduced by $500.00. Instead of receiving $1,500.00 each, the husband will receive $1,000.00, while the wife will receive $2,000.00.
During a divorce, claims that one spouse dissipated marital property can become an important issue that can alter the final property distribution. Once a spouse makes a claim that the other spouse wasted resources, the legal burden shifts to the other spouse to prove that the expenditures were reasonable. For this reason, it is generally a good idea to maintain and keep records of where and what you spent during the separation. If a spouse cannot prove that the money was spent for a proper purpose, he or she will likely be required to pay the money back into the marital estate.
If you have concerns that your soon-to-be ex is spending too much money, contact our Chicagoland divorce law firm or call our office at 312-624-7645 to set up an initial consultation. We can help you understand your rights and work to protect your assets.