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Reckless Spending During a Divorce


When a divorce is looming, some people change their spending habits. Whether it is a reaction to stress or due to more nefarious reasons, some spouses start excessively spending money. Sometimes people have been given the advice to spend more, a lot more, to validate a request for more spousal support. No matter what the reasons are you shouldn't be spending any differently during a divorce than you would typically. Especially during our current financial climate excessive spending is unwise.


The court may look at things like:

  • New automobile

  • Vacations

  • Gambling debts

  • Money spent on extramarital affairs

  • Incurring major business losses

  • Significant stock investments; or

  • Spending on lavish gifts


If you believe that the the excessive spending of your spouse is not beneficial to your marriage, you might have a claim for dissipation. When the court divides the marital property in your divorce case, dissipation is something that is considered by the court. The court will look at a couple of things.


Was the marriage irretrievably broken when the spending occurred? For example, although you might not be happy about the purchase of the new sports car, were you still a couple when it was purchased? Going out to dinner with friends, engaging in marital relations, sleeping in the same room are all examples that you were a couple. You cannot get past the first hurdle of an irretrievable breakdown and allege dissipation. In contrast, one spouse is sleeping in the basement, you take separate vacations and you have separate friends. This would indicate that the marriage underwent an irretrievable breakdown.


Marriages require some trust, so it is hard when your spouse ruins the trust you placed in them. However, it is your duty to pay attention to finances. If you notice there is excessive spending going on there is protection against this form of behavior. The Automatic Temporary Restraing Order (ATRO) is an injunction that seeks to prevent a party from disturbing another party’s peace, and includes the prevention of dissipation of marital assets. It means that neither party can conceal, encumber, transfer, or dispose of property without the other party’s consent or a without a court order.


If you have reason to believe that filing a dissipation claim is needed in your divorce, contact a family law attorney as soon as possible.

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