The division of marital assets in an Illinois divorce is a stressful process under any circumstances, and it can be made worse by a spouse who recklessly or intentionally wastes assets, or uses them for self-serving purposes before the divorce is finalized. The legal term for this behavior is “dissipation,” and there are remedies available to a spouse who has been wronged by it. However, it is important to understand what actually qualifies as dissipation to make sure you have grounds to file a claim against your spouse.
Uncovering Signs of Asset Dissipation
Before you can go about claiming dissipation, you need to be aware that it is happening. In some cases, a spouse’s wasting of marital assets may be open and obvious, especially if they are doing it out of spite or a desire to hurt the other spouse. However, it is more common for a spouse to try to hide their dissipation. You may be able to find signs of dissipation on your own by carefully reviewing your joint bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial documents. You can also enlist the services of a forensic accountant to find signs that you may have missed.
What Qualifies as Dissipation in Illinois?
You may have questions and concerns about your spouse’s spending behavior in a variety of circumstances, but only certain kinds of behaviors qualify as dissipation from a legal standpoint. You can better determine whether your spouse is dissipating assets by asking yourself the following questions about their behavior:
- Did you approve of your spouse’s use of the assets? If you knew of your spouse’s spending behavior and agreed to it at the time, it will be difficult to make a case for dissipation even if you later decide that the behavior was inappropriate. On the other hand, use of assets without your knowledge or consent may qualify as dissipation.
- Did you benefit from your spouse’s use of the assets? Even if you did not know in advance of your spouse’s intention to use assets, it will be difficult to claim dissipation if you benefited from their behavior in some way, like using a car that they bought or going on a trip that they paid for. However, if your spouse used the assets for entirely selfish purposes, like gambling, paying for a solo trip, or buying gifts for an extramarital affair, a claim of dissipation may be more successful.
- Did the behavior occur after your marriage had failed? Only behavior that took place after the start of an “irretrievable breakdown” in your marriage qualifies as dissipation. You may be able to demonstrate such a breakdown if you were already living apart if you were aware of your spouse’s affair, or one of you had already filed for divorce, for example.
Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney
If you believe your spouse has dissipated marital assets, the St. Charles divorce lawyers at Shaw Family Law, P.C. can help you file a claim for reimbursement. With our help, you can better protect your interests throughout the division of marital property. Call us today for a free consultation at 630-584-5550.