When you go through a divorce, you typically have to either agree to terms before filing for an uncontested divorce or provide documentation to the courts regarding your marital assets so that the courts can divide those possessions and debts on your behalf.
In both outside negotiations, such as mediation, that lead to uncontested filings and contested divorce proceedings in court, accurate and thorough knowledge of your marital estate is critical to securing a fair outcome.
Unfortunately, it is a common practice among some people to intentionally waste funds prior to a divorce. Some people even hide assets to keep them from their spouse. If you suspect that your spouse has intentionally diminished the marital estate or wasted assets that the courts would otherwise have split between you, you may be able to claim dissipation and ask the courts to consider that behavior when splitting up your assets.
What kind of behavior constitutes dissipation?
The dissipation of marital funds effectively means a waste of those assets or their use for a purpose that does not support the marital union. Examples of dissipation could be giving away assets to diminish how much your marital estate is worth, spending thousands of dollars conducting an affair that damages your marriage or engaging in dangerous gambling activities that cost thousands of dollars.
Any actions taken or financial decisions made by one spouse that negatively impact the marital estate or benefit only that spouse may qualify as dissipation. That dissipation could impact what you can reasonably ask for during asset division proceedings or negotiations.
You need financial documentation to prove your claim to the courts
Some people don’t bother to cover their financial tracks after making questionable or overtly illegal financial decisions. Your spouse could directly transfer money out of a shared account into a private account, for example.
However, some people are more careful about how they diminish the marital estate, which could mean that you will require the help of financial experts, such as forensic accountants. These specialists can review your financial records and track missing assets, helping you to build a case for the courts.
The more money someone wastes, the more important dissipation claims become
If your ex spent a couple of hundred dollars on overpriced meals while conducting an affair, that is offensive and obnoxious, but it may not be enough to convince the Texas family courts to adjust their ruling regarding asset division.
If your spouse has systemically given away or destroyed assets valued at many thousands of dollars, you may have a better claim. The more money your ex wasted, gambled or destroyed, the greater the chance that the courts will seriously consider your dissipation claims and take action to penalize your spouse for those inappropriate behaviors.