What is Dissipation?

In proceedings for dissolution of marriage, dissipation is the “use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time that the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.” Marriage of O’Neill, 138 Ill.2d 487, 150 Ill. Dec. 607, 563 N.E.2d 494, (1990). One common example is when a spouse uses marital funds to travel and vacation with a new companion. Other examples include losses from gambling and bad investments.

If parties are not in agreement on how to divide their marital assets, the court will have to decide. To do so, the court will consider a number of factors. Pursuant to Section 503(d)(2) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5/503(d)(2), dissipation can be a relevant factor that the court must consider if a party has given notice of their intent to claim dissipation in a timely manner. The party claiming dissipation must file the notice with the court and must serve the other party with the notice of dissipation. The notice must be given no later than sixty (60) days before trial or thirty (30) days after discovery closes, whichever is later.

In the notice the party must make sure to include the date the marriage underwent an irretrievable breakdown. The party must also specifically identify the property subject to the claim of dissipation and when the dissipation occurred, which is typically a specific date or a period of time. Once dissipation is claimed the other party must prove that their spending was justified.

Remember that there are deadlines for claiming dissipation. Speak to an experienced attorney if you have questions about a dissipation claim against you or if you believe you have a basis for a dissipation claim against your spouse.

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