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Property Division and Wasting of Marital Property

Wedding Cake.pngWhen asking the Judge to divide your marital property, can you make a claim that your spouse has wasted or dissipated marital assets?

If you can prove that your spouse has wasted or "dissipated marital property" you may be entitled to half of what he or she spent outside of the marriage.

Q. What do we meant by the term "dissipation"?

A. Dissipation is the use of marital funds or property for a purpose completely unrelated to the family.

Q. How can you prove Dissipation?

A. Classic examples of dissipation are gambling expenditures, expensive jewelry your spouse purchases for herself or himself, extravagant gifts to a third party or trips taken by your spouse alone or with his or her girlfriend. Even dinners with that other person are fair game. You have to be specific as to the amounts of money and when they were spent. The court will look at whether the expenditure was for the benefit of the marriage, whether the expenditure was excessive and whether your spouse intended to hide the expense. Another question asked is whether you agreed to it and whether this was a pattern throughout your marriage.

Q. What are marital funds?

A. Any income earned by either of you during the marriage, retirement accounts, bank accounts, mutual funds etc. as long as that money was not acquired by inheritance or gift.

Q. Can you go back 10 or 20 years?

A. No. You can't claim "dissipation" before the marriage underwent an irretrievable breakdown and under current Illinois law you can't claim dissipation more than 5 years before you filed for divorce or more than 3 years from when you discovered that your husband or wife was wasting marital assets.

Q. How does it help you if you can prove dissipation?

A. If you convince the judge then he or she can compensate you by awarding you more of the marital estate. It can tip the scales of what might be a 50/50 split of all your marital property.

Q. Does "dissipation" apply to your partner if you were unmarried.

A. No.

Q. How do you go about claiming dissipation?

A. In Illinois, you must make that dissipation claim at least 60 days before your case is set for trial or 30 days after discovery is closed whichever is later. Your notice also has to state when your marriage underwent "an irretrievable breakdown" and it must be filed with the circuit court and sent or delivered to your spouse or his or her attorney according to local rules.

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