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Bringing a Dissipation of Assets Claim Against a Spouse

Posted on in Division of Assets

DuPage County family law attorneysImagine this scenario: You and your husband have decided to divorce. You assume that there is a certain amount of money in the savings account but are not following the balance closely. You eventually realize that your soon-to-be-ex-husband has spent nearly all the family savings on expensive gifts and vacations for a mistress. You had planned on receiving some of those savings in the final divorce judgment, but now they are gone. Fortunately, in the state of Illinois, there is a legal process for reclaiming money that was wasted by a spouse before assets could be divided in a divorce.

The Legal Definition of Dissipation of Assets

According to Illinois law, there are specific criteria someone must meet in order to be considered guilty of dissipation. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines dissipation as “the use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time that the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.” Some incorrectly assume that marital property only refers to mixed assets, but generally any debt, asset, or income accumulated by either party during the marriage is considered marital property. Separate property refers to non-marital property and includes things like gifts, inheritance, and property acquired before the marriage. The phrase “irretrievable breakdown” simply means that the couple has reached a point where they are no longer trying to stay together.

Common Examples of Dissipation

Dissipation occurs during the end of a marriage when a spouse spends martial money in a way which does not benefit the couple. A spouse who is angry at the other may purposely waste money or sell assets out of revenge. Dissipation can also include money spent on gambling, alcohol, or drugs. As in the previous example, dissipation can also include funds spent during an affair. However, this spending must have taken place after the irrevocable breakdown of the marriage has begun. Regular spending on things like bills or small expenses cannot be considered dissipation. The spending must be excessive and wasteful in order to be considered dissipation.

Contact Our Office for Guidance

If you are considering divorcing a wasteful or revenge-seeking spouse, do not try to do so without skilled legal guidance. If allegations of dissipation are confirmed by the court, this can have a profound effect on a divorce settlement. To learn more, contact a DuPage County family law attorney at Pesce Law Group, P.C. at 630-352-2240 for a free, confidential consultation.



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