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Can a Spouse’s Addiction Be Considered Dissipation in Illinois?

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Batavia-divorce-lawyer1.jpg-min1.jpgThe legal concept of “dissipation” refers to wasteful spending that takes place near the end of a couple’s marriage. When Illinois couples divorce, their marital estate is divided according to equitable distribution. When one spouse’s wasteful or reckless spending decreases the value of the marital estate prior to divorce, a dissipation claim can help the other spouse regain the value of the lost or wasted property. Many types of irresponsible spending can be considered dissipative, including a spouse who spends money on an addiction or substance abuse problem. Read on to learn about when a spouse’s addiction can contribute to dissipation and what to do if you wish to file a dissipation claim.

Defining Dissipation in Illinois Law

Illinois statutes and case law define dissipation as the use of marital assets “for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage” when the marriage is nearing divorce. Put another way, dissipative spending occurs when a spouse who is getting divorced uses marital funds or property in a way that only benefits him or her. The reckless spending must take place when the marriage is undergoing an “irretrievable breakdown” in order to meet the legal definition of dissipation. Generally, a marriage is considered to be undergoing a breakdown when the couple is no longer attempting to work out their issues or salvage the marriage.

Dissipative Spending Can Include Funds Lost to an Addiction

There are many types of irresponsible spending that can constitute dissipation. Money spent by a spouse on gifts for a secret lover may be considered dissipative. Funds spent on a gambling addiction or compulsive shopping problem may also be an example of dissipation. Substance abuse and alcoholism can also fall under this definition. If you bring a claim of dissipation against your spouse, you must file a notice with the court identifying the following information:

  • When the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage began

  • The property which was dissipated

  • The time period during which the dissipation occurred

There are certain filing constraints that you must follow when considering a dissipation claim, so it is important to take action as soon as you realize that dissipation has occurred. A qualified family law attorney can help you determine what types of spending constitutes dissipation and how to file a dissipation claim during your Illinois divorce.

Contact an Aurora Dissipation Lawyer

A divorce is never easy, but it is important to understand your rights to marital property. In some cases, addiction can cause one partner to spend a significant amount of the couple’s savings on alcohol or drugs. If your spouse dissipated assets during your marriage, we may be able to help you recover the lost funds. Contact an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney from the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. to learn more. Call us today at 630-409-8184 to schedule a confidential consultation.


The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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