Once you know that divorce is in your future, it’s essential to keep a close eye on the marital assets that you will be splitting with your spouse. People can (and unfortunately sometimes do) engage in what’s called the “dissipation of assets.” It occurs when a spouse intentionally wastes or squanders marital assets to lessen the amount their husband or wife will get in the divorce settlement. Typically this is done out of malice or spite and by a person who can afford to throw away money. Often they have a high income that they’ll continue to have after the divorce while their spouse doesn’t.
Watching the accounts and credit card activity is a good way to spot this activity. If you’re seeing a lot of account withdrawals or credit card cash advances, that can be a warning sign. If you’re seeing large purchases at retailers or large debit card or credit card activity at obscure entities like “ABC Enterprises,” you may be wise to check those out.
Note that to be considered “dissipation of assets,” the spending needs to be 1) substantial, 2) frivolous and 3) unusual. If your spouse is just continuing their usual practice of throwing away money on things they don’t need, that may not qualify.
However, there are other, less obvious ways that people can hide or move assets to keep them from their spouse in the divorce. If your spouse owns a business, has accounts overseas or has a friend or relative willing to “borrow” some money from them, they may be able to hide or move substantial amounts. If you believe that’s a possibility, it may be wise to call in a forensic accountant who can find or recognize activity that you wouldn’t be able to.
Securing your financial future is one of the most important goals of just about anyone who gets divorced. If you believe your spouse is endangering yours, talk with your attorney about what you can do to minimize the damage.