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DuPage County family law attorneysIt is an unfortunate reality that divorce can sometimes bring out the worst in people. When a marriage is ending, spouses can sometimes act in ways which deplete the martial estate. They may purposely waste marital funds so that the other spouse does not have access to them or they may have an expensive drug, alcohol, gambling, or shopping addiction which drains the estate. If you are getting divorced and your spouse has squandered shared assets, you may be able to recover these assets through a dissipation claim.

Illinois Law Regarding Dissipation of Assets

The term “dissipation” generally means to waste or spend resources frivolously or recklessly. With regard to divorce law, dissipation occurs when a spouse uses marital funds for a purpose not benefiting the marriage after the marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown.” There is some ambiguity about what exactly constitutes this breakdown, but it is generally defined as the moment that a married couple ceases attempts at reconciliation. In other words, an irretrievable breakdown occurs when divorce is imminent.

Examples of Dissipation

The Illinois Supreme Court has defined dissipation as the sale or use of marital property “for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage.” This means that using marital funds for household bills or a mortgage payment is not dissipation. If a husband used thousands of dollars of martial funds on a vacation for him and his secret girlfriend during the end of his marriage, it is very likely that this would be considered dissipative. Similarly, if a wife has a substance abuse problem and spends a significant amount of money on drugs after the breakdown of her marriage, her spouse could claim dissipation. Spouses may also be able to file a dissipation claim when marital property “goes missing” and the other spouse cannot account for why the money or property was used.

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DuPage County famila law attorneyAccording to government data, approximately 23.5 million Americans have drug and alcohol addictions.  That works out to roughly one in 10 individuals in the United States over the age of 12. Alcoholism and drug addiction can rob a person of everything they hold dear in life, including their marriage. Of course, drugs and alcohol are not the only types of addictions that occur. Compulsive shopping, gambling addiction, and even sex and pornography addictions can also wreak havoc on a couple’s marriage. If you are considering divorcing your spouse who suffers from an addiction, there are several things you should keep in mind.

Consider a Legal Separation

If you are planning to divorce a spouse suffering from addiction, it is crucial that you take steps to protect your property and assets. Consider placing your money in separate bank accounts instead of a joint account. You may also want to remove your spouse as an authorized user on your credit cards. Generally, any debt which is accumulated after a couple has filed for divorce is not included in the marital estate and subject to property division during divorce, especially debts that were entered into for the benefit of just one spouse.

If you worry that your money will be wasted by your spouse because of their addiction before you file for divorce, you may want to consider filing for legal separation as soon as possible. A person who is legally separated is not responsible for debt accumulated by his or her spouse after the separation. In order for a couple to be granted a legal separation in Illinois, they must be living apart.  

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DuPage County divorce lawyerTragically, addiction is something that touches millions of Americans’ lives every year. Drug and alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, and even compulsive shopping can rob a person of their joy, career, and even marriage. If you are considering leaving your spouse due to his or her addiction, you may feel lost, confused, and unsure of how to move forward with a divorce. The bad news is that divorcing an addict is often much more challenging than divorcing a person without addiction issues. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help prevent complications as well as protect yourself and your rights during the divorce process.

You Do Not Need to Prove Your Need for a Divorce

Television and movies have only added to the confusion surrounding separation and divorce. In many films, a spouse can be seen explaining how and why the other spouse created the need for the couple to divorce. In real life, you will never need to justify your desire to end your marriage. Illinois, along with every other U.S state, allows married spouses to file for divorce without specifying the “grounds” or reasoning for the separation. You will be able to file for divorce based on no-fault grounds. In Illinois the only official grounds for divorce is "irreconcilable differences," meaning that the marriage is irretrievably damaged and cannot be salvaged.

Addiction Issues May Affect Child Custody Decisions

Courts making decisions about child custody and visitation understand that many parents have the occasional stiff drink. However, any substance abuse or addiction issues that are severe will likely be seen as red flags by the court. Anything that the judge thinks will affect a person’s parenting ability will be taken into consideration. In order to create the healthiest environment for children possible, a judge may order that the addicted parent only visit with their child during the daytime and forgo overnight visits. The judge also has the option of requiring visits to be supervised by a professional appointed by the court. Parents who struggle with severe drug and alcohol addiction but wish to maintain parental responsibility may be required to submit to occasional drug and alcohol screens or attend an addiction recovery program or support group. If the court believes an addicted parent represents a danger to his or her child(ren), full custody may be awarded to the non-addicted parent.

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