The Dissipation of Marital Assets
Towards the end of the marriage — (during the period when the marital relationship has irrevocably broken down) — during this period, when one spouse uses marital assets for his or her sole benefit, these expenditures may constitute a dissipation of marital assets. In this excellent blog posting, Rachel Alexander writes that dissipation must be evaluated based on the circumstances of each particular case. The analysis examines these factors:
The proximity of the expenditure(s) to the time the marriage had originally broken down, when the parties separated, or when they commenced an action for divorce;
Whether the expenditure in question was typical of other expenditures made by the party prior to the breakdown of the marriage;
Whether the expenditure benefited the joint marital enterprise or benefited one spouse to the exclusion of the other;
The necessity of the particular expenditure;
The amount of the particular expenditure; and
Whether the expenditure was made with the intent to diminish the other spouse’s share of the marital estate.
As Rachel does, in mediating a divorce, if dissipation is identified, I quantify with my clients the amount that was dissipated and determine how to redress the “harmed” spouse through other marital assets. We do not place blame or escalate the situation — together we address the injury by redistributing the assets to make the non-dissipating spouse whole. By handling the issue actively and simply, we relieve feelings of unfairness and move the process forward.