What Can I Do to Stop Them?

In a perfect world, couples who divorce keep the process amicable, cooperating with each other in coming to an agreement on how their marital estate should be divided. Unfortunately, this is not the true reality of how most divorces work. The months or years leading up to a divorce are often fraught with anger and fighting and these feelings often continue as the divorce progresses.

In some cases, the feelings of contempt for each other are so intense, that a spouse will deliberately do things to try to hurt the other spouse. One common way this happens is through excessive spending of the couple’s assets. This type of action has a legal name: dissipation of assets. Family courts look down upon this activity and it can have a major impact on how a marital estate is divided.

Dissipation of Assets

It can be difficult to understand this concept, after all, doesn’t everyone have the right to spend their own money they want to? This may be generally true, however, once a couple has commenced a divorce action, there is a type of “freeze” that is put on marital assets. This is because, eventually, these assets need to be divided in some way between the couple. The total sum of the assets is no longer there to benefit the couple once the marriage has reached an irretrievable breakdown.

Therefore, a spouse is not allowed to use marital assets on things that are unrelated to the marriage (i.e. to pay the mortgage on the family home or vehicle payment) once a petition to divorce has been filed.

Many cases of dissipation of assets take place after the divorce petition has been filed, however, a spouse can be guilty of this action even before the legal paperwork has been filed if it can be proved that the marriage has reached a point where it is no longer salvageable.

Proving dissipation of assets can be complex and often requires the help of a forensic accountant or other professional. Your divorce attorney can make arrangements to have all of the marital accounts examined to determine if your spouse is spending assets and, if so, how much he or she has squandered.

Keep in mind, it is not only large amounts of assets that qualify under this rule. If a spouse used funds from the bank account the couple is using to pay shared expenses to purchase personal items for themselves, they are guilty of dissipation and could be penalized by the court.

Lawyers have had clients who have had spouses guilty of dissipation of marital assets. Some of the more common expenses guilty spouses use marital funds on include:

  • Alcohol addiction
  • Drug addiction
  • Gambling addiction    
  • Marital affair

If you suspect that your spouse is committing dissipation of marital assets pending a divorce action, speak with divorce lawyers in Rockville, MD, such as from the Law Office of Daniel Wright, who can explain all of your legal options available.