Berman & Asbel, LLP

Divorce and the intentional wasting of assets

In contentious divorce cases, one spouse may attempt to squander marital assets to avoid splitting it with the other spouse. Pennsylvania residents who are facing the end of a marriage should be able to recognize if a spouse is wasting assets and may want to know what remedies can be sought.

The dissipation of assets can be particularly troublesome for wives who traded in their careers to be a stay-at-home mother. While a husband who earns a considerable income may easily recover from the wasted assets, the wife will mostly likely not have her own income and may have difficulty earning well when she returns to the labor force.

Family courts in some states issue an automatic temporary restraining order when divorce papers are first filed. This prevents both parties from wasting assets for the duration of the proceedings. Not all states do this, however, and even in one that does, the dissipation may have started well before the filing.

People who are worried that this behavior may be taking place may want to have the services of a forensic accountant to examine the couple's financial records. For a court to put a halt to such spending, it will have to be shown that it was unusual and significant in amount.

The end of a marriage is often filled with enough emotion without a party having to worry about financial issues. If it can be demonstrated that one of the parties was wasting marital assets, the aggrieved party's attorney could bring it to the court's attention during the property division phase of the proceedings.

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