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Wheaton, IL dissipation of assets lawyerIllinois no longer allows divorcing spouses to claim fault-based grounds for divorce. However, this does not mean that a spouse’s behavior cannot influence a divorce settlement. Spouses who waste or destroy property during the breakdown of their marriage or during divorce proceedings may be guilty of dissipating assets. If you are planning to get divorced or have already started the divorce process, and you believe your spouse has grossly misused marital funds or property, you may have a valid dissipation claim.

Defining Dissipation of Assets

Illinois law defines dissipation as the use of marital property for a purpose not related to the marriage when the marriage is undergoing an irreparable breakdown. Examples of dissipation of assets include situations such as:

  • After a wife files for divorce, a husband decides to “get even” with her. He intentionally destroys thousands of dollars of their furniture and other household property so that the wife cannot be assigned these items during property division.

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DuPage County dissipation of assets lawyerBeing cheated on by your spouse can be heartbreaking. Not only do you have to deal with the sadness and anger caused by the betrayal, but you may also have to deal with the financial consequences of your spouse’s infidelity. If you are getting divorced, and your spouse has been unfaithful to you, you should know about a legal concept called “dissipation of assets.” Through a dissipation claim, you may be able to receive compensation for marital assets that were spent on an affair during the end of your marriage.

Defining Dissipation in Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court has identified dissipation as the use of marital assets for a purpose unrelated to the marriage and that only benefits one spouse. Assets may be dissipated, or wasted, through an affair, gambling addiction, substance abuse problem, intentional destruction of property, or other means. However, in order to be considered dissipation, the wasting of assets must have taken place during or after the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. A marriage is generally considered to be undergoing a breakdown if the spouses are not living together, spending free time together, having marital relations, or have decided to divorce.

Dissipation Claims Related to an Extramarital Affair

There are several ways that a spouse can dissipate marital assets through infidelity. Perhaps your spouse spent a substantial amount of money on expensive jewelry or other gifts for his or her lover. Your spouse may also have dissipated assets if he or she spent marital funds on airfare, hotels, and other travel expenses related to visiting the other person or taking a vacation with him or her. You spouse may have even given away marital property to his or her paramour.

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Post-Divorce Financial SecurityWhen a couple decides that their marriage is no longer healthy, a divorce may be the best option. A divorce can provide a new start and a healthier living situation for yourself and any children involved. However, the divorce process can also be incredibly complicated, particularly when it comes to the division of marital assets such as bank accounts, retirement plans, and investments. To secure your financial security after divorce, the first and most important step you can take is to choose a divorce attorney you can believe in.

Here are three more things to keep in mind to protect your financial security in a divorce.

Avoid Excessive Spending Prior to Divorce

As a couple’s relationship comes to a close, it is entirely common to feel a wide range of emotions. In some cases, the emotions of an impending divorce can prompt reckless spending. According to Illinois state law, when a person spends marital assets for purposes independent of the marriage as the marriage is coming to an inevitable end, this is called dissipation of marital assets. Common forms of dissipation of marital assets include spending money on an affair, intentionally harming shared assets such as a car or family heirlooms, or buying expensive personal items for yourself. Before making any excessive expenditures just before or during the divorce process, speak with an attorney to make sure you understand the impact that such expenditures could have on the division of your marital property.

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With divorce comes the division of debts and assets. For many couples, this can be a contentious issue. However, it may be made worse if one divorcing party has a spending problem. Assets can be depleted, sometimes significantly, which can result in a decreased settlement. Be it an intentional depletion of assets or a simple issue with knowing how to budget and spend accordingly, the following information can help you deal with a wasteful spouse during a divorce.

Why Continued Sharing of an Account May be Necessary

On the one hand, the solution to asset depletion might seem simple: just stop sharing accounts. Unfortunately, this is not always an option. In some cases, it may be difficult to untangle joint assets. As such, the assets may need to be shared until the divorce is finalized. In other cases, one of the spouses may be caring for the children but not have enough to support them; since the children should not have to suffer, sharing of assets may be required.

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Divorce is more than just an emotionally complex situation; it is a process that can financially devastate anyone, including those with a high net worth. On one hand, those that have built a fortune could stand to lose more than half of their marital estate. This is because Illinois is considered an equitable distribution state, so assets are distributed "fairly" in divorce, not equally. On the other hand, you could have a spouse that tries to hide or deplete assets to keep a disadvantaged spouse in the dark. Either situation could have a significant impact on the financial future of one or both parties. Reduce your risk of experiencing such a fate and learn how to protect your assets in divorce with help from the following tips.

Collect Documentation and Store it Safely

Regardless of which side of the divorce you are on, it is critical that you gather as much documentation as you possibly can. Search for credit card bills, any information on retirement accounts, bank statements on any joint or individual accounts, and any other financial paperwork you can find. Make copies and then store them in a safe place. Oftentimes, these documents can disappear during divorce proceedings, and that can make for complications in your case. Alternatively, if you are struggling to obtain paperwork, talk to your attorney about doing a Discovery on your marital assets.

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