Perhaps the easiest way to think about the dissipation of marital assets is that your partner is intentionally trying to waste your financial assets. This happens when your partner fully knows that they are not legally allowed to hide assets during the divorce. They must disclose everything that you both own.
However, they don’t want to split all of those assets with you. What they will do is to try to spend down those assets as far as possible, using the money on themselves and buying something that will have no value after it is purchased. This essentially wastes the money before it would have been divided between the two of you, giving “your half” to your spouse to use prior to the divorce.
How could this happen?
To make it a bit easier to understand, an example of this would be your spouse taking a vacation. Maybe they’ve always wanted to go on vacation to a tropical location. When you file for divorce, they decide that they’re going to go on their own.
Then they spend $20,000 of your family’s money on their trip. They use the money to buy things like flights, hotel stays, excursions, food and drinks. They get to enjoy all of this, but there’s no way for you to divide those purchases. Your part of this asset is gone forever.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that there’s nothing they can do in a situation like this. But there is, because you may be able to show that your spouse was intentionally spending down these assets specifically so you wouldn’t get them, and then you can fight to get those assets replaced out of the rest of your joint estate.
This process can be complex, of course, so be sure you know what legal steps to take.