Dissipation of marital property occurs when one spouse improperly or wastefully uses marital assets during the marriage dissolution process. This can involve excessive spending, transferring assets to third parties or purposefully depleting funds in anticipation of a property division process.
California’s community property laws stipulate that assets acquired during the marriage belong to both spouses and should be divided in accordance with that joint ownership. When one spouse dissipates marital assets, the other will likely get less than their fair share unless the dissipation is brought to the attention to the court and the court opts to remedy this misconduct.
How can you prove dissipation?
Usually, the burden of proof lies with the spouse alleging the occurrence of dissipation. You must prove, with relevant evidence, that your spouse purposefully misappropriated or wasted marital assets without your knowledge and consent. You may be able to accomplish this aim by assessing financial records, bank statements and other relevant documents demonstrating dissipation.
The impact on property division
Financial misconduct by a spouse in anticipation of divorce is considered unethical, and the courts frown upon such behavior. When dissipation is proven, a judge may adjust the division of marital assets accordingly to compensate for the lost or wasted assets. As such, the spouse who dissipated the marital assets may receive a smaller share.
Protect your financial interests during a divorce
Dissipation of marital assets can negatively impact your future financial well-being long after the divorce. As such, you cannot afford to sit back and let it go unchecked. Pay close attention to all the transactions involving marital assets in the lead-up to and during your divorce. This includes joint credit cards, bank accounts, investments and even retirement funds – anything you may have a financial stake or interest in as a party to the divorce. It will be easier to notice suspicious transactions with a complete picture of your marital assets.
Most importantly, ensure that you take swift and decisive action. It may be too late to make amends or recover your rightful share of your marital assets if you delay or decide to wait it out. Seeking legal guidance during divorce can help you implement proactive measures and effectively respond to situations that could compromise your interests.