In my last blog entry, I discussed whether the parties are allowed to date during the pendency of their divorce, and how the concept of dissipation can come into play if either or both parties are dating during their divorce. Although we discussed dissipation in terms of an affair, dissipation is not limited to affairs. In fact, a party can be found to dissipate the marital estate for a multitude of reasons, as long as they are taking marital resources and using it for his or her sole benefit. For example, a party could be found to have dissipated the marital estate if that party paid the mortgage throughout the marriage, but decided to simply stop paying and use the funds for himself or herself. Another example, a party could be found to have dissipated the marital estate if they take marital funds and go on a lavish vacation by themselves.
If you think your spouse has dissipated a marital asset in some way, it is not as simple as requesting the court require your spouse to reimburse the marital estate. Rather, the statute requires the party alleging dissipation to follow a set of rules in requesting their spouse reimburse the marital estate. Pursuant to Section 503 of the statute, a party must provide a specific notice of intent to claim dissipation. This notice must at least include (1) when the marriage began to break down; (2) the property dissipated; and (3) when the dissipation occurred. The party alleging dissipation then must serve the other party with the notice of intent to claim dissipation at least 60 days prior to trial or 30 days after discovery closes, whichever is later.
Although this may seem simple, a notice of intent to claim dissipation is a comprehensive legal document that must be completed properly and timely filed, otherwise the claim for dissipation is waived and you will not be reimbursed. Thus, it is always best to consult an attorney if you believe you have a dissipation claim. If you believe your spouse may be dissipating the marital estate in some way and you need help making this claim, feel free to contact our office for your free consultation!