Definition of Dissipation

Dissipation occurs if either spouse uses assets of the marriage for illegal or inequitable purposes when divorce is imminent. The court will consider all instances of dissipation when they determine how spousal assets should be distributed. The general idea is that no spouse should be deprived of the “enjoyment” of their property prior to divorce.

Claims of dissipation must be proven. Spouses can provide financial data of any questionable expenses to the court, and it is up to the allegedly guilty spouse to prove the legitimacy of the expenses. If the expenditures are proven to be unallowable the state may use a spouse’s misconduct to determine how property is divided and may give more money to the other spouse assuming they can prove their husband or wife squandered the marital property or income.

Dissipation claims can be made for excessive gambling, drinking, or indiscriminate spending. Transferring assets to other family members can also be considered dissipation. For example, if you know a divorce is imminent and you begin giving large sums of community property or income to a family member, such as a brother, this action could be considered dissipation because it deprives your spouse of their assets or income.

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