In certain high-asset divorce cases, greed, anger and vindictiveness overcome fairness, cooperation and any attempt at goodwill. High-earning spouses may attempt every trick possible to avoid equitable distribution of assets.
One such despicable way they do this is through the “dissipation of marital assets.” In essence, this is the frivolous spending and wasting of a couple’s money as a way for the high-earning spouse to thumb his nose at the process and estranged spouse. The squandering spouse does not want the other to secure a fair share of the marital assets.
Spending down the marital assets
A high-earning spouse knows that he will have no difficulty earning back that money after a divorce. So, in spiteful moves, he will spend an abundant amount of money on a paramour, gambling, lavish “business” trips or even controlled substances.
Such an erosion of marital assets proves troublesome for the lower-earning spouse, who may have given up a successful career to stay home and care for the family. Her future earnings outlook is not as promising as that of the high-earning ex-husband.
ATRO, forensic accountant
One strategy that could help in this situation is the implementation of an automatic temporary restraining order (ATRO), which is imposed on both people in a divorce. This type of restraining order has nothing to do with domestic violence, rather deals with property.
The implementation of an ATRO prevents either party from spending money that would disrupt and alter the current situation or status quo of the marriage. Marital assets remain intact and cannot be hidden, sold or destroyed
The dissipation of assets often is difficult to prove, so you likely need a forensic accountant as an advocate. A forensic accountant understands deceit and carefully examines financial records to uncover anything that seems suspicious.
In supporting a claim of dissipation of assets, you must prove that your estranged spouse spent a substantial amount of money and that the spending seemed unusual and inconsistent compared with previous spending habits. These, though, are marital assets, and you legally deserve your fair share.