When you’ve been treated badly by your spouse and are headed for a divorce, it’s only natural to be upset – even angry. However, you need to be cautious about trying to “stick it” to your future ex financially. The wrong move can leave you open to accusations of marital waste.
Marital waste, also known as the “dissipation of assets,” refers to the misuse of marital assets by one spouse during the period leading up to a divorce. It typically occurs when one spouse intentionally squanders or depletes any marital resources for their own benefit (and to the detriment of the other spouse).
What does marital waste look like?
Marital waste can take a lot of different forms, but here are some of the most common examples:
- Destroying, giving away or selling marital property at a loss: People laugh when they hear about things like the fellow who sawed his house in half to settle his divorce or the wife who sold her husband’s treasured collection for $1 and gave her spouse fifty cents – but that’s not funny to the court.
- Spending on a marital affair: It’s perfectly normal to move on after a bad relationship, but spending any marital funds on your new partner can be a bad move. This includes expensive gifts, fancy dinners and dream vacations, as well as paying any of your new partner’s rent or bills.
- Reckless or wasteful spending: Whether you empty out the savings account for a luxury shopping spree or blow all the household money at the blackjack table, the losses can significantly deplete what you have to split and draw judicial ire.
The court sometimes punishes a spouse who engages in that kind of behavior by allotting the injured spouse a greater share of what remains – and that’s just for starters. You could also be ordered to reimburse your spouse for what they’ve lost or face other sanctions that can negatively affect your financial future.
If you’re fast approaching a divorce, the wisest move you can make is to seek experienced legal guidance – and listen to what’s being said before you make any rash moves.