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03 Nov 2016

What Is Dissipation Of Assets And What Can You Do About It?

Some couples divorce amicably. They recognize that their marriage is best ended, and they work to come to a fair resolution as soon as possible so they can get on with their lives. For other couples, divorcing is much more complicated. In these cases, greed, anger, and spite are primary motivators, and the process becomes war-like, with battles fought over every dollar.

As a divorce financial advisor who works exclusively with women, I’ve seen husbands use just about every dirty trick in the book to keep from having to divide assets with their wives. One of the most common ways is to “dissipate,” or waste, marital assets. When a husband tries to dissipate assets, it means he’s intentionally squandering marital property to prevent his wife from getting her fair share of it in the divorce settlement.

How can a husband do that?

Well, he could dissipate assets by spending money on a girlfriend. Or he could gamble. A spiteful husband with a high income might have no problem throwing money away, knowing he’ll be earning it back after the divorce. “Easy come, easy go,” as they say… and the most vindictive husbands would rather lose the money outright than split it with their wives.

The consequences for those wives, though, are no laughing matter. If the wife gave up paid work to care for house and home, she may not have immediate income of her own. On top of that, she won’t be able to earn much when she tries to reenter the work force. A bump in the road for a high-earning husband can mean loss of livelihood for a stay-at-home mom.

Some states provide a degree of protection against dissipation of assets by requiring an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO). This is a court order preventing either spouse from changing the financial status quo of the marriage once a divorce action begins. ATROs are not mandatory in all divorces, though, and many states don’t require them at all. Your attorney may have to request one, and what’s more, a lot of financial damage can be done before the ATRO kicks in. (Remember to ask about an ATRO as soon as possible.)

What can you do to determine if your husband has frivolously spent money to keep it out of your divorce settlement?

Take a close look at your joint credit card statements, and make sure you can precisely identify each expenditure. Keep in mind that some businesses use an unremarkable parent company name to obscure the nature of the business. If your husband spent thousands of marital dollars at a strip club with his buddies, for example, the expense might only show up on your bill as “ABC Enterprises” or something equally bland.

You can read the other half of this article on Forbes: http://bit.ly/2fIG6tN

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