Selfish Spending and Divorce
At the serious thought of divorce, a party should begin taking inventory of records that might reflect dissipation.
With regard to the division of assets, a new statutory element has been added to the Illinois statutes that does have something to do with fault. It is called Dissipation of Assets. The time frame for accusations of dissipation assets goes back to the time that the marriage began to break down. It is possible that the time frame could stretch back five years. All assets (marital and non-marital alike) can be dissipated. A very broad description of dissipation could be selfish spending by a party.
Selfish spending could involve money spent on a paramour, or gambling, or drugs, or alcohol, or a hobby solely pursued by one of the parties. It could, as well, involve excessive spending by one party that primarily benefits the spending party.
Evidence of dissipation can be found in credit card statements, bank statements (including ATM withdrawals), receipts, and all other records that show spending. Also, dissipation can take into account the incurrence of debts for, as we say generally, selfish spending.
At the serious thought of divorce, a party should begin taking inventory of records that might reflect dissipation. If the party orders copies from credit sources, she or he should have them sent to a Post Office box rented to safeguard evidence and communications from that party’s attorney.
The statute requires that a claim for dissipation should be in writing, list the date or dates of the alleged dissipation, and a description of the spending. There is a timeline for filing, but that is the job of your lawyer.
Once dissipation of assets is charged it falls to the accused to explain the spending as not being dissipation of assets by Clear and Convincing Evidence. That is a standard of proof just below Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
Once the amount of dissipation of assets is determined, that amount (already spent) is entered on the dissipater’s side of the property division ledger. That realistically can amount to a good deal of money on the non-dissipater’s side of the ledge. We have dealt with a Ferrari automobile and a retail store credit account that required a payment of $74,000 as a monthly minimum. On the other hand, we have seen claims for dissipation made for purchases such as a Starbuck’s coffee cup!
Dissipation of assets cannot be overlooked. It is an integral part of divorce settlements or litigation. It is a case of the past presenting its bill. Whether intentional or otherwise, it is a common occurrence, which is why couple of years ago, Illinois added a statute to address this aspect of dissipation of property and assets. To learn more, view Section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act or seek a no-fee consultation from an expert family law attorney.