Update: Can I Spend Money or Give Away Assets Before My Divorce?
Originally published: February 16, 2021 -- Updated: May 25, 2022
UPDATE: Below, we look at how the divorce laws may address attempts by a spouse to hide or conceal assets prior to or during their divorce. However, it is also important to understand how the law addresses the dissipation of marital assets. Dissipation is the use of marital property for non-marital purposes after a marriage has begun to undergo an irretrievable breakdown. Asset dissipation can take many forms, including cases where a spouse spends money on an extramarital affair, such as by taking vacations with a lover or buying them gifts. However, it may also involve purchasing items or using marital funds for a person’s sole benefit, spending money on a drug or gambling addiction, or purposely destroying property with the intent of harming the other spouse.
During the property division process, a spouse may make an asset dissipation claim stating that they believed the other spouse engaged in improper behavior by spending, wasting, or destroying marital property. However, they will need to show that these actions occurred after the marriage started breaking down beyond repair, and a claim must be made within three years after a spouse discovered that the alleged dissipation took place. Claims of asset dissipation cannot address any actions that took place more than five years before the divorce process began when one spouse filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. If a court determines that asset dissipation occurred, the spouse who dissipated assets may be required to reimburse the marital estate for the value of the dissipated assets, or they may receive a lesser share of marital assets upon the completion of the couple’s divorce.
The divorce process can be difficult in any situation, but disputes can become even more contentious if one spouse believes that the other has purposely wasted or destroyed marital property. If you suspect that your spouse has engaged in this type of behavior, or if your spouse is accusing you of improperly using marital assets, you will need to work with an attorney during the divorce process to address these concerns and ensure that your marital property can be divided fairly. To get legal help with these and other issues, contact our Oakbrook Terrace asset dissipation attorneys at 630-909-9114.
When you are in the process of getting divorced, or you are planning to file for divorce (or know that your spouse intends to file), you need to be careful about the money you spend and the assets you give away. Why is spending or gifting money or assets a potential problem leading up to your divorce? In short, these actions might be construed as an attempt to hide or conceal assets so that you are able to obtain more of the marital property than you would otherwise receive under the terms of equitable distribution.
As you may know, under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), all marital property is identified and divided between the spouses based on an arrangement that the court determines is equitable to both spouses. If you try to disrupt that equitable distribution of marital property, you can face significant penalties. Before you spend marital assets or gift property, you should seek advice from one of our Oakbrook Terrace property division lawyers. We have been representing members of the Muslim community in DuPage County for years, and we can work with you to ensure that your divorce case goes as smoothly as possible.
Disclosing and Classifying Marital Property
When your divorce case gets underway, you will be required to provide property disclosures that list all of your assets and debts — including those that you believe to be separate property as well as those that you believe to be marital property. The court will determine which of the assets and debts should be classified as separate property (meaning that they will not be divided) and which of those assets and debts should be classified as marital property (meaning that they will be divided according to the rule of equitable distribution). You must give the court information about all property, and you may be required to provide detailed information about large assets that you recently spent or gifted to another party. Spending or gifting assets that would be classified as marital property can present a problem.
If you want to spend or gift assets that you are certain are separate property, it may be beneficial to wait until after your divorce is finalized. But if you need to use the property leading up to or during your divorce case, you should work with a divorce attorney in Illinois to ensure that the property is indeed separate property and can be spent or gifted freely without consequences in your divorce. Marital assets are different. If you give a relative or friend a substantial amount of money from a savings account you share with your spouse, or if you gift an expensive painting or rare book to a friend, the court might assume that you were attempting to hide or conceal marital assets in order to get a larger share of the property.
Penalties for Hiding or Concealing Marital Assets
Hiding or concealing marital assets can have serious consequences in an Illinois divorce. You can face sanctions from the court, including monetary fines. You can also, in some cases, be held in contempt and can be required to pay back the assets you gave or gifted in addition to a percentage of the value of those assets.
If you want to use marital assets in any major capacity before your divorce case, you should seek advice from a divorce lawyer to ensure that you are not penalized by the court.
Contact a Divorce Attorney in DuPage County
Do you have questions about property division and your rights? One of our skilled DuPage County divorce attorneys can assist you. Contact Farooqi & Husain Law Office online or call our firm at 630-909-9114 for more information.