What Does Timing Have to Do With a Dissipation Claim?

dissipation, Arlington Heights family law attorneyIn a divorce proceeding, the couple must reach an agreement about how they will divide their marital property, or the court will step in and divide the marital estate for them. If the court gets involved, there are numerous statutory factors that will be considered, including any claims of dissipation filed by either spouse.

Dissipation refers to the spending of marital assets inappropriately—namely, for purposes unrelated to the marriage. When a claim of dissipation is filed, it is essentially a request for the spent assets to be repaid to the marital estate so that the property division process can be completed equitably. While the type of spending is an important consideration in a dissipation claim, the timing of the spending mattes as well.

Understanding Dissipation

The Illinois Supreme Court has defined dissipation as the use of marital assets by one spouse for his or her own benefit rather than that of the marriage. Dissipation claims are common in divorce cases where a spouse has spent large amounts of money on alcohol, drugs, gambling, foolish investments, or adulterous affairs. In certain situations, dissipation could also include destroying or failing to maintain a marital asset, such as an investment property. This type of dissipation is a problem because it can dramatically reduce the overall value of the couple’s marital estate.

When the Spending Happened

If your partner has always had problems with financial responsibility, you might be tempted to claim that he or she dissipated marital assets throughout your marriage. However, the Illinois Supreme Court specifies that wasteful spending is only considered to be dissipation if it happens while “the marriage was undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.” While it may be tough to say exactly when the marriage started to break down, this limit means that you cannot go back to the very beginning of your marriage, in most cases, and complain that your spouse was bad with money. The law also says that the dissipation will only be considered if it took place within five years prior to the filing for divorce, regardless of when the marital breakdown began.

Dissipation Claims

For your dissipation claim to be considered in your divorce, it must include certain elements:

  • You must specify the amount of money or type of property you think was dissipated.
  • You must provide a date on or around which the marriage started breaking down beyond repair.
  • You must specify a date or period during which the dissipative spending took place.

Once you have made your claim, it will be up to your spouse to prove the actions or spending in question were for the overall benefit of the marriage. If your spouse cannot justify the spending, he or she could try to show that your marriage had not started to break down yet and that the spending, therefore, was not dissipation.

Call a Rolling Meadows Family Lawyer

Situations involving possible dissipation can be complicated, but an experienced Arlington Heights divorce attorney can help you make sense of the issue. Call 847-253-3100 for a free consultation to discuss your situation with a member of the team at Cosley Law Office today.





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