What Is Wasteful Dissipation in a Divorce?

Wasteful dissipation refers to the wasteful spending of marital assets or failing to protect marital property. If you’ve never encountered this term before, the reason is that it usually only comes up within the context of divorce.

Put simply, wasteful dissipation occurs when a spouse frivolously treats money and property, often to a harmful degree – and with the intent to harm the other spouse’s share after property division. If you suspect your spouse is engaging in wasteful dissipation, it’s crucial to bring this up with your attorney.

What Is Considered Wasteful Dissipation?

We’ve defined wasteful dissipation, but you may be looking for more clarity as to how it manifests. To be sure, there can be a lot of disagreement about what constitutes wasteful dissipation, especially when spouses disagree on the necessity of certain spending decisions.

Generally speaking, wasteful dissipation benefits either only one spouse or neither of them. If a spouse spends money on a college education, this probably wouldn’t be considered wasteful dissipation. This would be due to the fact that the spouse’s expanded skill set can result in a greater earning potential or flexibility in the job market – things that benefit the marriage as a whole.

Likewise, a spouse that spent money on home furnishings may not have engaged in wasteful dissipation as long as the purchases were reasonable and contributed to making the home comfortable.

Examples of Wasteful Dissipation

These are a few common examples of wasteful dissipation:

  • Spending money on an extramarital affair
  • Racking up gambling debt or gambling away marital assets
  • Purchasing excessive amounts of recreational drugs and alcohol
  • Excessive spending in anticipation of divorce
  • “Gifting” money and property to friends and family members

If your spouse has engaged in any of these behaviors or something similar during or immediately prior to your divorce, it’s important to inform your attorney or seek legal counsel who can help.

What Happens When Wasteful Dissipation Occurs?

Allegations of wasteful dissipation can be difficult to prove, but if one is successful, the judge may take the dissipation into account during property division. This can mean awarding less marital property to the spending spouse, having considered a portion that they would have received already “spent” due to dissipation.

Because Texas is an equitable distribution state, the courts have greater flexibility to order these types of judgments than in community property states.

Contact Our Attorney Today

Kay Polk, Attorney at Law can help if you believe wasteful dissipation is a factor in your divorce. We can help you investigate your claim with the assistance of financial professionals and argue for a fair division of property that takes wasteful dissipation into account.

For more information about our legal services, contact Kay Polk, Attorney at Law online today.