Ekker Law, P.C. / Steven B. Ekker, Esq.

How a Dissipation Claim Can Help You Recover Wasted Assets in an Illinois Divorce

 Posted on July 12, 2021 in Divorce

Sugar Grove divorce attorneyThe financial impact of divorce can be profound. Divorced spouses may be left carrying a heavy financial burden months or years after the split. In some cases, spouses are not even aware of their financial circumstances until they reach the end of their marriage. They may start readying financial documents in preparation for divorce only to find that their spouse has squandered funds, sold property, or otherwise wasted assets unbeknownst to them. In other cases, a spouse’s financial recklessness is the main catalyst for the divorce.

Regardless of the exact circumstances, if your spouse has wasted money or property and you are getting divorced, you may be able to recover some or all of this property through a dissipation claim.

What is the Purpose of a Dissipation of Assets Claim?

A dissipation of assets claim is a legal claim used to pursue reimbursement for property that was wasted before the divorce. If your claim is successful, your spouse will be required to reimburse the marital estate for the funds that were lost to dissipation. You would then be entitled to an equitable share of that property per Illinois’s equitable distribution laws.

What Counts as “Wasted Assets?”

Spouses often disagree on how to spend money. One spouse may insist on buying name-brand clothing or organic groceries while the other is happy to shop at discount or second-hand stores. Dissipation does not refer to everyday spending on living expenses such as these. Dissipation occurs when spending is:

  • Wasteful, reckless, or extravagant

  • Only beneficial to one spouse

  • Not related to the marriage

Furthermore, dissipation claims may only address spending that took place while the marriage is experiencing an “irretrievable breakdown.” In other words, the spending must have taken place after the couple has stopped living as a married couple or ceased attempts at salvaging the marriage. The spending must be substantial, unusual, and not condoned by the non-spending spouse.

Examples of Dissipation

Dissipation can take many different forms. Sometimes, wasteful spending is purposeful and intended to exact retribution on a spouse. Other times, wasted assets are only a side effect of a serious addiction or substance abuse problem. Some of the most common situations that lead to dissipation of assets claims include a spouse:

  • Spending money on gifts or expensive outings during an extramarital affair

  • Spending money or selling property to fund an addiction such as a gambling addiction or drug or alcohol dependency

  • Throwing away, burning, or otherwise destroying property out of spite or revenge

  • Intentionally failing to pay bills leading to additional debt or negative financial consequences

  • Transferring funds to a friend, family member, or affair partner 



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