Divorce is nearly always a highly emotional and stressful process. If you find out that your former partner has been hiding or spending marital assets, it adds a layer of hurt – and, potentially, significant financial hardship. When it comes to dissipation, do you have recourse in court?
Let’s look at an example to put this issue in context: a couple is divorcing, and the wife discovers that her husband has been spending money for gifts or trips with his new girlfriend. This is dissipation, as defined under the law. Per the Illinois Supreme Court, dissipation is the “use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time that the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.” * Note: the Court later amended this to include non-marital property as well.
In our example, the husband is certainly using these assets for a purpose unrelated to the marriage. But what is “irretrievable breakdown”? This is the time at which the breakdown of a marriage is inevitable. It’s not a fight or a conflict. It’s not a gradual eroding of trust or intimacy. Rather, it is the point at which the marriage is, for all intents and purposes, “over.”
Dissipation applies to assets other than money. It could be, for example, that one spouse failed to pay the mortgage and the home went into foreclosure or that he or she did not pay taxes. Even destroying photographs may qualify as dissipation.
The law does impose some restrictions on dissipation claims:
Dissipation can be a complicated issue, and it is certainly an emotionally fraught one. Contact Kiswani Law to discuss your case and your options.