What is a Dissipation of Assets Claim in an Illinois Divorce?

wheaton divorce lawyerThe word “dissipation” refers to wasting or squandering money or resources. In the context of divorce, dissipation refers to the waste, destruction, or misuse of property during the breakdown of a marriage. If you are getting divorced and your spouse has spent money or assets frivolously, you may be able to recoup some of these assets through a “dissipation of assets” claim. However, only certain types of spending are considered dissipation according to Illinois law.

Funds or Property Wasted During the Breakdown of a Marriage

According to Illinois law, the assets and liabilities obtained by either spouse during the marriage are part of the marital estate. Typically, a spouse is responsible for the other spouse’s spending even if he or she did not know about the spending. Dissipation of assets, however, is a unique situation involving the misuse of assets near the end of a marriage.

Per Illinois law, dissipation occurs when assets are destroyed, misused, or spent and the spending:

  • Only benefited one of the spouses
  • Was for a purpose not related to the marriage
  • Occurred while the marriage relationship is experiencing an “irretrievable breakdown”

Examples of Dissipation in Illinois  

In order for wasteful use of money or resources to be considered dissipation, the spending must meet the criteria listed above. Often, dissipation of assets occurs when a spouse sells property or uses funds to finance an addiction or an affair. Dissipation of assets may also occur when a spouse intentionally destroys property out of spite. The following situations may be considered examples of dissipation:

  • Ruining a spouse’s personal belongings
  • Buying an affair partner expensive jewelry
  • Selling property to finance a vacation with a secret boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Spending a considerable amount of money gambling
  • Emptying the checking account to finance a substance abuse problem

Waste or misuse of both marital and non-marital property may be considered dissipation. In order to be considered dissipation of assets, however, the spending must be substantial, unrelated to the marriage, and it must have occurred after the marriage began breaking down. A marriage is generally considered to be in the midst of a breakdown when the spouses are no longer sharing a bed, spending leisure time together, or trying to salvage the relationship.

Contact a Wheaton Divorce Lawyer

If you are getting divorced and your spouse wasted money or property, you may be able to reclaim the wasted assets during divorce through a dissipation claim. To learn more, contact a DuPage County divorce attorney from MKFM Law. Call 630-665-7300 for an Initial Attorney Meeting.


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From our law office in Wheaton, IL the family law and civil litigation law attorneys of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick and Mirabella, represent businesses and individual clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois including Wheaton, Naperville, Oak Brook, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Lombard, Downers Grove, Burr Ridge, Lisle, Elmhurst, Oakbrook Terrace, Winfield, Woodridge, Warrenville and throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties.

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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree