Divorce has a tendency to create huge amounts of stress and lead to emotional, irrational behavior. Otherwise decent people can behave in downright inexplicable ways. The greater the overall assets from your marriage, the more likely that your divorce could end up dragging on for some time. You and your spouse may simply be unable to agree to terms for asset division regarding the divorce.
In that scenario, the courts will step in and handle the asset division process. Knowing that the courts will review financial information and divide all marital assets can spur some people to make questionable decisions. Some people may attempt to hide assets, like savings accounts or valuable possessions, from their spouse or the courts. Other people may decide to spend as much as they can before heading to court.
The courts frown on dissipation of marital assets
When one spouse intentionally wastes or disposes of valuable assets to deprive the other spouse of their value, that is dissipation. Intentionally racking up massive credit card bills or other debt prior to filing for divorce is another form of dissipation. The courts may also consider spending large amounts of money (or incurring debt) in the process of courting someone for an extramarital affair dissipation.
Some people try to be more subtle about it. Selling items of significant value to friends, family or co-workers for inappropriate or low prices, potentially with the intention of buying them back after the divorce, may also be dissipation. Simply giving away marital assets without the consent of the other spouse is also a form of dissipation.
When one spouse has proof that the other spouse intentionally wasted, sold or gave away substantial marital assets, that can have a profound impact on the asset division process in a divorce. The courts will often penalize the spouse who dissipated marital funds.
Ohio courts strive for fair and equitable distribution
When considering how to divide the assets and debts accrued during a marriage, the courts in Ohio will do their best to be fair. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean a 50/50 division of all assets. Instead, it means that the courts will consider many factors when determining the most fair way of splitting up marital possessions.
When one spouse intentionally gives away or squanders marital assets, that can impact his or her share of the assets that remain. The courts may very well reduce the total award to that spouse by at least as much as was spent, sold or wasted. In some cases, they may go even farther, awarding additional assets to the spouse who was the victim of the dissipation. If you have reason to believe that dissipation is a factor in your pending divorce, it is critical to obtain as much documentation about the suspected activity as possible.