Keith B. Schulefand, Esq.
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My spouse has been dissipating assets. What can I do about it?

When you and your spouse began the divorce process, you had a reasonable estimate of your marital assets’ value. But now the time has come to divide your property, and you are stunned to find that your spouse has been deliberately wasting assets so that you will receive less than your fair share. This is a spiteful move called dissipation of assets that, unfortunately, some spouses will resort to in a divorce.

You may be wondering what kind of financial and legal recourse you have. After all, depending on your situation, you may be entitled to a significant amount of your marital assets. If you are dealing with dissipation of assets in a divorce, these are a few steps that you should take to mitigate it and prove it in court.

Start documenting evidence

The first step, and one of the most crucial, is to carefully examine your financial documents and records. Go through your joint credit card statements and bank accounts and note any amounts withdrawn or transferred. Then, begin documenting unusual expenditures. This can provide much-needed evidence if your divorce proceeds to court.

Get professional help

Tracking down surreptitious financial expenditures can be difficult, particularly if you are preoccupied with the many hassles of a divorce. You may need to hire a financial or legal professional to assist you in gathering evidence. Consult a forensic accountant or an attorney who can help you uncover the extent of your spouse’s financial mendacity.

Make your claim

Once you have enough convincing evidence, you may make a claim of dissipation of assets. Remember, to make a persuasive claim, you must be able to demonstrate two things:

  • That the amount of assets squandered is substantial. It’s not enough to go through your financial records and nit-pick your spouse’s small expenses. Purchasing a bicycle? Not a huge deal. Purchasing a new Mercedes Benz? That’s a different story.
  • That the expenses are frivolous and unusual. If your partner has a previous history of making unwise purchases, you may not be able to claim that he is dissipating assets. But if he is suddenly making outlandish purchases, you may have grounds for your claim.

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