Dissipation of the marital assets: 6 ways it happens

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2024 | Divorce

Financial conflicts are a major source of marital problems, and filing for divorce doesn’t always mean that those conflicts will end. Sometimes, a vindictive spouse will actually ramp up their financial abuses. 

The wasteful or reckless depletion of shared resources is one way that one angry and abusive spouse sometimes tries to “get even” with the other spouse during a divorce. This is called the dissipation of marital assets.

What are some examples of marital asset dissipation?

The possibilities are pretty broad, but it’s important to remember that the overall goal of the spouse who squanders marital property is simply to deprive the other spouse of their fair share – even if it is to their own detriment. With that in mind, here are some of the most common ways it can happen:

  1. Lavish spending: One spouse may decide to go on a high-end shopping spree or take a luxury vacation, or otherwise drop piles of cash on non-essentials without the other spouse’s knowledge or consent.
  2. Gambling: It’s not exactly unknown for an angry spouse to hit a casino and gamble away the household savings with a “devil-may-care” attitude about the consequences.
  3. Buying alcohol or recreational drugs: The idea that an embittered spouse would blow every dime on a “bender” with drugs or alcohol is so familiar to people that it’s often a trope in movies and television shows.
  4. Destruction of assets: Whether they take a sledgehammer to the household possessions or purposefully flood the marital home and walk away, this can make for a dramatic display of anger by a bitter spouse.
  5. Selling items at a loss: This can involve selling prized belongings (especially those treasured by the victimized spouse) for a fraction of what they are worth to avoid letting the targeted spouse have them or get any share of their true value.
  6. Purposeful mismanagement: If one spouse has been entrusted with the financial management of the family business, for example, and they deliberately destroy the company’s reputation or alienate their biggest client, that may be considered dissipation.

When marital assets are dissipated, the process of asset division relative to the divorce can become very complicated. Courts do take into account the financial contributions – and misconduct – of one spouse toward another. That can result in an uneven distribution of what remains and other financial penalties. 

Divorce can be difficult to go through, but you don’t have to go through it all by yourself. Experienced legal guidance can provide a lot of clarity and support during this time.

At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation at 646-665-3903 or by contacting us online.

Let Me Be Your Brave

Mia Poppe, Esq.

Mia Poppe, Esq.
Managing Partner