When divorcing spouses cannot reach an agreement about how to divide property, a court will apply applicable state law and issue a ruling. Judges try to make rulings that are fair and reasonable to both parties.
If one spouse substantially wasted marital property, it may be a key factor bearing on a judge’s analysis of equitability. Here are some important things to know about the effect that dissipation of marital assets may have on how a judge awards property.
In some instances, the rapid depletion of assets reflects a malicious motivation to spite or deprive a spouse. A judge will assess if a person had a legitimate intent to spend funds, sell property, or accumulate debt. Also, it may be relevant if the expenditure was for the sole benefit of only one spouse.
A sudden change in the value of assets could occur at any time in a marriage. However, squandering a community property as soon as it is apparent that a divorce is on the horizon could be indicative of wrongful intent.
Waste does not necessarily need to be intentionally aimed at hurting a spouse to affect a judge’s ruling. Any type of wrongful intent or objective may be relevant. Some common examples of waste include spending money on an extramarital affair, gambling or making risky investments.
Ultimately, people who are getting a divorce in which the dissipation of assets is an issue in dispute may have a challenging ordeal ahead. They need to be strategic and meticulous about gathering evidence supporting their position.