Do you need to recover dissipated funds in a New York divorce?

Financial issues are among the leading causes for couples to file for divorce, and those issues don’t usually disappear just because a couple decides to end their marriage. In fact, the costs of divorce and the intense emotions that arise at the end of the marriage could lead to an even greater dispute about financial circumstances, as well as questionable financial decisions by either spouse.

If you think that your spouse has intentionally diminished the value of your marital estate by giving away items or recklessly spending money, you may be able to ask courts to adjust the asset division process in your divorce to reflect those actions.

What constitutes dissipation before (or during) a divorce?

The concept of dissipation can confuse some people, but it is actually a pretty straightforward legal idea. Dissipation is the intentional wasting of funds or diminishment of the marital estate, often when one person knows that divorce is likely.

Dissipation can take on many different forms, but the primary factors that determine whether someone dissipated marital assets or not remain the same across all these cases. Usually, dissipation benefits only one spouse or actively undermines the relationship itself.

Dissipation through the sale or gifting of assets

The process of splitting up your possessions is one of the most complicated aspects of divorce. In most cases, the New York courts look at all of your marital assets and debts before deciding the most reasonable way to split them between the spouses.

One spouse, knowing that divorce is imminent, might intentionally give away or sell assets in order to diminish the value of the marital estate. Many times, the intention is to recover valuable assets after the divorce, which is why the recipient or purchaser is often someone who has a relationship with the spouse engaging in dissipation.

Selfish shopping habits or expensive adultery could count as dissipation

If you told your spouse that you wanted a divorce and they proceeded to go to a casino and empty your savings account, that waste of marital assets benefited only them and impacted your rights in the divorce. The courts may consider that dissipation when deciding how to split up your remaining assets.

Similarly, if your ex has spent thousands of dollars on fancy meals, jewelry and hotel rooms while conducting an affair that damaged your relationship and contributed to the divorce, the courts may also view those transactions as dissipation.

If your ex began racking up credit card debt right before the divorce filing, that wasteful spending could also count as dissipation. Tallying up all the money spent or valuing the assets given away can help you determine if pursuing claims about dissipated assets will be worthwhile in your divorce.