The Dissipation of Marital Funds
When married couples split on bad terms, one or both spouses may try to gain an upper hand by taking money from the couple's bank accounts for their own purpose. While this may feel satisfying for a while, a court will factor the taking of funds in this manner when later dividing the marital assets.
Dissipation of Marital Assets
The taking of marital funds or other marital assets by one spouse for his or her, own personal use, unrelated to the marriage, during a divorce or legal separation, is referred to as dissipation of marital assets. For example, if a spouse is spending marital funds to support a paramour, this would be considered dissipation of marital assets.
Under Illinois law, when a court is dividing marital assets, the judge cannot consider any marital misconduct. It can, however, consider a spouse's dissipation of marital funds. When a spouse is accused of dissipation, he or she has the burden of proof to show how the funds were used. To meet this burden, the spouse accused of dissipation needs to have very detailed records of how the money was spent and must show that the expenses were incurred for the benefit of or related to the marriage.
The spouse accusing the other of dissipation has to inform the court, within a certain time, of his or her intention to claim that marital assets have been dissipated. The court cannot find a spouse's dissipated marital assets if the alleged dissipation occurred prior to five years before the filing for the divorce, or three years after the spouse claiming dissipation knew, or should have known, the other spouse was dissipating marital assets.
Additionally, the spouse claiming dissipation has to outline when the marriage started to experience irreconcilable differences, which assets were dissipated, and when the dissipation took place. The spouse alleging dissipation may have to prove when the marriage started to experience irreconcilable differences for purposes of proving dissipation.
Note that if one spouse is spending marital funds in a way that may ordinarily be considered dissipation, but is only continuing a conduct to which both spouses had previously agreed, the court may not find that the marital funds have been dissipated. For example, a husband may use marital funds to care for a sick parent if the wife had previously agreed to such spending during the course of the marriage; the court here may consider the wife to have agreed to the spending of funds in this way. The particular facts of a case would determine the judge's decision on the matter of dissipation.
Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney
If you are going through a divorce or legal separation, and your spouse is spending all the money in the joint bank accounts, you need to contact an Illinois family law attorney. The attorneys at MKFM Law will aggressively fight for you to get a fair share of all marital assets despite any dissipation.