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What is Considered an Irreconcilable Breakdown With Regard to Dissipation?

Posted on in Divorce

Naperville divorce lawyerNeedless to say, emotions can run high during a divorce. While some couples are able to end their marriages cooperatively and cordially, other marriages have much more dramatic endings. When one spouse is vengeful or resentful of the other, he or she may use certain tactics to get what he or she wants or to hurt the other spouse. Wasting assets is one of these tactics. When a spouse purposely spends marital property recklessly during the end of a marriage, he or she is guilty of something called dissipation.

Dissipation Defined

In Illinois, dissipation is defined 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 irreconcilable breakdown”. “Irreconcilable breakdown” means that the marriage has come to the “beginning of the end.” In other words, the couple is no longer attempting to save the marriage or working toward any reconciliation.

Dissipation During an Affair

Consider this scenario: You and your husband are having serious trouble in your relationship. You have been living more like roommates than husband and wife for almost a year and neither of you think the marriage is salvageable. You have broached the subject of divorce but no one has filed yet. You find out that your husband has been spending thousands of dollars on expensive jewelry and other gifts for a mistress. Your husband has dissipated, or wasted, money which should have been spent in a way which benefits both spouses.

How Do Courts Determine When the Marriage Was at Its End?

Illinois courts are sometimes tasked with determining if a spouse is guilty of dissipation of marital assets. To do so, they must first determine when the marriage began an irreconcilable breakdown. Courts may consider:

  • When the couple quit marriage counseling or other attempts at staying together;
  • When the couple stopped sharing meals or spending recreational time together;
  • When the couple stopped having a sexual relationship;
  • When the couple stopped attending social events together;
  • When the couple started discussing divorce, separated, or hired divorce attorneys; and
  • When the couple filed for divorce.

In the example above, the couple had already stopped spending time together and having a sexual relationship. Furthermore, they had already discussed divorce as an eventual possibility. This would likely be considered dissipation.

Has Your Spouse Wasted Assets?

If you are divorcing and worried about your spouse’s spending habits, our Naperville family law attorneys are ready to help. To schedule your initial, confidential consultation at Pesce Law Group, P.C. call 630-352-2240 today.


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