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How Can a Dissipation Claim Help Me Recover Wasted Assets?

Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorney dissipation of assets

Property division is often one of the most consequential aspects of divorce – especially for high-net-worth individuals. Some divorcing spouses reduce the value of the marital estate through excessive or careless spending or even intentionally destroying assets. This is referred to as the “dissipation of assets.” When a spouse spends money or property on a purpose not related to the marriage immediately prior to divorce, the other spouse may be entitled to compensation for the dissipated assets. Through a dissipation claim, you may be able to recover the value of assets your soon-to-be ex-spouse spent on extravagant vacations, gifts, or other unnecessary purchases.

Illinois Law Regarding Dissipation of Assets

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) contains a provision defining dissipation and addressing how wasted or destroyed assets should be handled in a divorce. Dissipative spending is excessive spending that does not benefit the marriage in any way. So, spending money on groceries, home repairs, or other necessary, reasonable expenses would not qualify as dissipation. Examples of dissipation may include:

  • Spending money on a vacation with an affair partner

  • Buying expensive gifts for a friend or lover

  • Excessive gambling

  • Selling property to finance a substance abuse problem or other addiction

  • Destroying or selling the property to “get even” with the other spouse

Misusing Funds or Property Before Asset Division

In order for spending to be considered dissipative, it must also occur during a certain time period. Illinois case law has established that dissipative spending is wasteful spending that occurs when the marriage is experiencing an “irreconcilable breakdown.” There has been a good deal of discussion about what signifies a marital breakdown. Typically, a marriage is considered to be in an irreconcilable breakdown when the spouses are no longer living as a married couple and have stopped trying to salvage the marriage. A marriage may be considered to be undergoing a breakdown even if the couple has not formally filed for divorce yet.  

Remedying Dissipation

When a spouse wastes assets before the marital estate can be fairly divided during a divorce, the property available to both spouses is reduced. The innocent spouse should not be forced to accept a lower share of assets because of the dissipative spouse’s irresponsibility. If you and your spouse are planning to divorce and your spouse has spent an excessive amount of money on a boyfriend or girlfriend, drug or alcohol dependency, gambling addiction, or other non-marital use, you may have a valid dissipation claim. Your spouse may be required to “pay back” the marital estate for the value of the dissipated assets. You could be reimbursed for the value of the property which was wasted or spent frivolously.

Contact a Naperville, IL Divorce Lawyer

If you are planning to divorce and you believe your spouse may have dissipated some of your marital assets, contact the reputable Pesce Law Group, P.C. to learn more. Our knowledgeable and dedicated DuPage County divorce attorneys can help you file a dissipation claim and fight for the divorce settlement you deserve. Call our office today at 630-352-2240 to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your concerns.


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