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What Is Considered Wasteful Dissipation of Marital Assets?

The wasteful dissipation of marital assets occurs when a spouse fails to preserve or wastefully spends marital assets, especially when divorce is on the horizon. Because both spouses have an interest in marital property such as income, savings, investments, real estate, personal property, and more, one spouse’s wasteful or neglectful treatment of such property adversely affects the other spouse.

Nowhere is this a more important issue to address than during divorce. When one spouse believes the other is engaging in wasteful dissipation and can successfully prove it in court, they may be awarded a portion of the marital assets that takes the loss into account. In other words, a greater portion of marital assets may go to the non-spending party than would have otherwise been ordered.

Common Examples of the Wasteful Dissipation During Divorce

Generally speaking, wasteful dissipation can include most spending behaviors that solely benefit one spouse and/or don’t contribute to the marriage. These spending behaviors also fall well outside of the couple’s usual spending habits and usually occur within close proximity to divorce. That said, there’s a lot of room for spouses to debate whether certain spending decisions cross this line.

For example, does a spouse’s spending on home décor constitute wasteful dissipation? It might not because the décor can contribute to the comfort and function of the home, which benefits both spouses and any children they might have.

As another example, would spending money on tools and materials used for home improvement projects be considered wasteful dissipation? Again, it would be unlikely if the spouse purchasing these materials is actively working on such projects, which can increase the value of the home.

Here are common examples of what wasteful dissipation can actually look like:

  • Spending marital assets on gambling
  • Spending marital assets recreational (legal or illegal) drugs and alcohol
  • Making incredibly risky investment decisions
  • Spending a significant amount of money before filing for divorce
  • “Gifting” tons of money or property to family members or friends
  • Vacationing more often than usual
  • Allowing real estate to fall into an otherwise preventable foreclosure

These are just a few of the most frequently cited examples of how wasteful dissipation can manifest. Because every marriage is unique in its financial situation and the dynamic between spouses, wasteful dissipation of marital assets can occur in many other ways.

What If My Spouse Was Always Bad with Money?

Remember that a spouse’s habitual spending throughout the marriage is unlikely to be considered wasteful dissipation. If your spouse was a spendthrift for years before you got a divorce, a claim of wasteful dissipation is unlikely to succeed.

If your spouse’s spending ramped up after you started discussing divorce with them, however, you may be able to successfully argue that wasteful dissipation occurred. Should you succeed, a judge may award you a portion of marital assets that takes the loss incurred by wasteful dissipation into account.

Who Can I Turn to for Help?

If you are trying to ascertain whether or not wasteful dissipation is playing a role in your divorce, our attorney at Beatriz Zyne, P.A. can provide the support you need. Through sophisticated and dedicated legal representation, we can fully investigate claims of wasteful dissipation and other matters concerning marital property.

Learn more about what Beatriz Zyne, P.A. can do for you when you contact us online now.