Can a spouse squander your assets before the divorce is final?

| Sep 21, 2020 | Family Law

Many divorcing couples work together for a fair distribution of marital assets, realizing that both parties want to get on with their lives once they work through those issues.

However, the process can be much more complicated for other couples, especially when motivated by anger, greed and spite. In these cases, it leads some to try to deprive their spouses by wasting or “dissipating” marital assets.

How marital property is dissipated

In some cases, a spiteful person, who is also a high-earner, will have no problem spending frivolously knowing he or she will earn it back later. Some of the methods include:

  • Spending money on a girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Gambling
  • Concealing assets
  • Transferring ownership to a third party
  • Claiming an asset doesn’t exist
  • Deferring pay or bonuses

The short- and long-term financial consequences for the other spouse can be devastating, especially for those who gave up income opportunities to care for children and the home.

Automatic orders provide protection

Spouses and attorneys can look for any suspicious activity and pay close attention to credit card statements. But it may require help from a forensic accountant who has the expertise to examine your financial records meticulously.

Under Connecticut law, an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO) goes into effect and preserves the status quo regarding children, spending and property. The order provides that both parties must file sworn financial statements disclosing all assets. If you catch a spouse depleting those resources, you can pursue a dissipation of marital assets claim.

Knowledgeable representation adds a layer of security

Proving that a partner is guilty of dissipating funds can be tricky. Courts typically don’t consider nickel-and-dime expenditures. Your best defense is to work with an experienced divorce attorney, so you receive your fair share of marital assets.

Your lawyer will protect your interests to make sure your spouse follows the automatic order. If a violation occurs, your attorney will work aggressively to recover those losses in the final property division order.