When a couple chooses to get a divorce, they will need to address multiple types of issues as they legally dissolve their marriage. Property division is one area that can is often disputed since both spouses may want to keep certain items, and they will both be looking to make sure they will have the necessary financial resources to live on their own. Disagreements in this area can become even more contentious if either spouse believes that the other has depleted the marital estate by wasting money or destroying property. This is known as “dissipation of assets,” and in these cases, spouses will need to be sure to understand how Illinois law addresses this issue.
Understanding Asset Dissipation
Dissipation of assets can take a number of forms, but it generally involves the use of marital property for a person’s sole benefit rather than any purposes related to their marriage. For example, a person may be accused of dissipating assets if they had an affair and took money out of a joint bank account to buy gifts for their lover. Dissipation may also involve the destruction of property as an attempt to harm the other spouse, such as by burning their clothes or defacing a painting that had sentimental value. It may also involve any other actions that reduce the value of the marital estate, such as spending marital funds on gambling or illegal drugs.
Proving that dissipation of assets occurred is not always easy, and certain limitations apply to these actions. Courts in Illinois have determined that a person’s actions will only be considered to be dissipation if they took place after the couple’s marriage began to experience an irretrievable breakdown. Illinois law also states that a spouse may only make a claim of dissipation within three years after they discovered or should have known about the other spouse’s actions, and claims may only address dissipation that occurred within five years before a spouse filed a petition for divorce. For example, if one spouse purchased an expensive motorcycle for themselves three years ago, but the couple did not begin experiencing relationship problems until two years ago, this purchase would not be considered dissipation.