Estranged Orange County couples who are ending their marriages do not always act reasonably. Rather than working out a mutually beneficial property division agreement and parting ways amicably, some fight over every asset until the bitter end. "Dissipation of assets" is one behavior that spouses may be accused of in particularly contentious divorce cases.
A person who dissipates marital assets essentially wastes the assets so that their spouse cannot receive their fair share in the property division settlement. Marital assets could be squandered on gambling sprees, lavish vacations or expensive gifts for a new romantic partner. People who earn a high income may not care about throwing away money that is in a savings account because they know that they will be able to replenish the account after the divorce.
The dissipation of assets can hurt a lower-earning spouse who may be counting on a fair division of marital assets in the divorce settlement. If the lower-earning spouse suspects that marital assets are being squandered, the issue can be addressed in court. To prove that assets have been dissipated, a person must show evidence that a spouse's extravagant spending habits are a new behavior that was not tolerated during the marriage.
A family law attorney may be able to help a divorcing person to stop their spouse from dissipating marital assets by petitioning for a temporary restraining order. If financial damage has already been done before one is issued, an attorney may use a forensic accountant to prove that assets were intentionally dissipated. A judge may take dissipation of assets into account while determining how property should be divided as part of the divorce decree.