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Dissipation of Assets Attorneys in Naperville, IL

DuPage County Dissipation Lawyers

Once a marriage becomes irretrievably broken, attorneys on both sides meticulously scrutinize the spending patterns of the other spouse. An expenditure for any item other than ordinary living expenses, attorneys' fees, and other minimal necessities may be classified as dissipation, or waste of marital assets. Some common examples include work tools that are left out to rust, a weekend jaunt with a paramour, and assets that are foreclosed or repossessed. Illinois law sets strict guidelines for the deadlines and content of dissipation claims.

Whether you have a claim or you have been accused of this misconduct, Pesce Law Group, P.C. attorneys work quickly and diligently to build the strongest possible case. We will then be in the best possible position to strongly advocate for you, both during negotiations and inside a courtroom.

Legal Framework

Illinois law does not allow the judge to consider marital misconduct in a complex property division, but Section 503(d)(2) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act does allow the judge to consider the financial effects of marital misconduct. Broadly speaking, dissipation is the use of marital property for a purpose unrelated to the marriage and for one party's sole benefit.

To pursue a claim, a notice of dissipation must be filed within 60 days before trial or 30 days of the close of discovery, whichever is later. This written notice must include the date the marriage became irretrievably broken, the property dissipated, and the time frame involved. Once the wronged spouse makes a claim, the spouse charged with dissipation must disprove the allegations by clear and convincing evidence. While a finding of dissipation may result in a money judgment against the offending spouse, most judges will give the wronged spouse an offset in the property settlement.

The law in this area is very unsettled. A few courts have even construed separate living expenses as dissipation, based on the theory that these expenditures did not contribute to the marriage. Since neither the courts nor the legislature have established a workable framework, a dissipation action is part of many, if not most, contested divorce cases.

Practical Considerations

Some of the best defenses to dissipation are:

  • Willfulness: Although not in the statute, at least some courts have considered the party's intent to waste assets and prevent the other spouse from obtaining them.
  • Acquiescence: If the wronged spouse either affirmatively gave consent to the disputed use or knew about it and did nothing to stop it, some courts have found no legal dissipation.

An experienced attorney should either prepare to respond to these defenses or use them as a basis to defeat dissipation allegations.

If the allegations are substantiated, waste of marital assets can have a profound effect on a property settlement. For assistance regarding a dissipation claim, contact Pesce Law Group, P.C. at 630-352-2240 for a free consultation. We serve families throughout DuPage County and neighboring jurisdictions.

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