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Understanding Dissipation: My Spouse Claims I Wasted Marital Money

Posted on in Division of Property

dissipation, DuPage County divorce lawyersDuring a divorce, it is not uncommon for spouses to make all sorts of accusations against one another. Some, as you might expect, are fairly reasonable while others may border on the completely outrageous. One of the most common allegations that tend to arise in a divorce case is that of dissipation. Dissipation refers to the wasteful spending, intentional destruction, or negligent devaluation of marital property and is a very serious charge.

Why Does Dissipation Matter?

In the course of a marriage, spouses have the freedom to do whatever they want their property. The can spend frivolously, save carefully, or find a balance somewhere in between. Divorce law in Illinois provides, however, that once the marriage has begun to irretrievably break down, how each spouse spends money becomes a matter of interest to the other spouse. This is because Illinois law requires that the marital property of a couple shall be divided equitably between the parties during the divorce. If one spouse wastes assets before the divorce can be finalized, he or she denies the other spouse the opportunity to receive a share of those assets.

Dissipation Claims

If your spouse suspects that you have wasted marital property—or spent marital funds inappropriately, he or she can file a notice of intent to claim dissipation. The notice will include a description of the assets he or she believes you wasted, the date or period during which your marriage began breaking down, and the date or period during which you spend the assets the assets in question. The spending in question must have taken place in the five years immediately prior to filing for divorce.

Possible Defenses

When you have been accused of dissipation, you will have several options for defending yourself and your actions. The easiest and most obvious is to show that the assets you spend were spent in good faith for purposes related to the marriage, even if your spouse disagreed with your decision. For example, if you used most of a savings account to pay down the remaining balance on a vehicle that is also considered marital property, the court is unlikely to find such spending to be dissipation.

The other possible defense against a dissipation claim is more difficult, but still possible. You could also attempt to show that at the time of the spending in question, your marriage had not yet begun to break down. This approach is more subjective and potentially open to interpretation by the court, but if the court agrees that your marriage was no in the process of breaking down, it cannot find the spending to be dissipation.

Defending a Dissipation Claim?

If you are going through a divorce and your spouse has accused you of wasting marital assets, you need help. Contact an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney for guidance. Call 630-409-8184 to discuss your case with a member of our team today.


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


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

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