For those who are considering a divorce, it is important to be aware of what the courts call "dissipation," and how to prevent it. Dissipation happens at the time of the "breakdown of the marriage," when one spouse spends a portion of the marital funds for the sole purpose of one's own benefit, completely unrelated to the marriage. Doing so diminishes the size of the marital estate, lessening the amount of money and assets subject to equitable division. In the event that the courts find one party guilty of dissipating funds, the other party may consequently be granted rights to more of the marital estate, as recompense for the dishonest spending. If your marriage has reached the point of "irretrievable breakdown," as the State of Illinois defines it, you should be aware of warning signs indicating that your spouse may be dissipating funds, and how to prevent further dissipation before your divorce is finalized. The following include a few tips for prevention.
Watch for cash withdrawals in large amounts. In this electronic age we live in, it is possible for you to see all financial transactions made by your spouse involving your joint accounts. If you suspect that your spouse is dissipating funds, be on the lookout for large cash withdrawals from these accounts. This tactic is often used to avoid leaving a paper trail, hiding the evidence of dissipation.
Look out for a possible third party transfer. Another common form of dissipation occurs through the transfer of money/assets to a third party. A dishonest spouse will sometimes give large amounts of money to a trustworthy person, with intentions of getting the money back after the divorce is finalized. If you notice significant amounts of money or valuable items turning up missing, keep an eye out for a potential third party--perhaps a good friend of your spouse, or a close relative. With your keen observations and the help of your divorce attorney, you may be able to prove a third party transfer as you litigate your divorce.
File a notice of intent to claim dissipation. In order to claim dissipation, one must file a notice of intent to claim "no later than 60 days before the trial, or 30 days after discovery closes, whichever is later."
(750 ILCS 5/503). This step is of utmost importance, and will be extremely beneficial to you as you build your case. Once you claim dissipation, the burden of proof is transferred to your spouse. He/she is then responsible for proving how the money in question was spent.
Request a preliminary injunction.
Once the divorce has been filed, you have the right to request that a preliminary injunction be entered. A preliminary injunction is a court order designed to prevent dissipation by requiring complete honesty between the spouses regarding marital funds and property. This ensures that your spouse cannot take large amounts of money for personal use or sell your joint assets without your permission. Preliminary injunctions are the best way to prevent dissipation before it happens.
Keep in mind when considering claiming dissipation, that taking action against such spending can be an expensive procedure. It is important to weigh the costs involved in filing a claim of dissipation in comparison to what you're actually losing as a victim of dissipation. If the cost of the dissipation outweighs that of fighting your spouse in court over it, it may be in your best interest to hire a divorce attorney to assist you in your efforts to preserve your rights to your marital estate.
For more information on how a divorce attorney can help you prevent dissipation, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.