Safeguarding Against Pre-Divorce Asset Dissipation
The dissipation of marital assets is when one spouse misuses marital assets either maliciously or simply through poor decision-making and, in doing so, denies the other spouse a fair share. Divorce lawyers caution that not every poor decision is asset dissipation, but it is generally an unreasonable expenditure that disenfranchises the other spouse. Therefore, it may be necessary to protect assets that could otherwise be wasted with no legal recourse to reclaim them.
Communicate With Your Spouse
Divorce experts recommend open and honest communication between estranged couples whether you are working on the marriage and considering divorce, separating, or in the process of getting divorced. If communication between the two of you is positive, an effective approach is to establish a new budget for this new period in your lives and to agree that no major financial decisions are made without mutual consent.
Attend Divorce Counseling
A struggling marriage is an incredibly stressful situation that will only become more taxing and traumatic as you move forward into the actual divorce phase. Mental health professionals encourage spouses to attend divorce therapy either individually, as a couple, or both. This can make the communication discussed earlier easier and more practical.
Another point to consider is that wasteful spending during a divorce often is not a malicious or even a calculated move but rather the byproduct of a manic episode. The potential is even higher in people who suffer from a mania-related disorder, and attending counseling provides that spouse with resources and tools to deal with the intense emotions that they are experiencing.
Sign a Postnuptial Agreement
A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement except that you sign it after you are married as opposed to before. These have become increasingly common as they provide a couple a means to update the marital agreement as they get older and their needs, wants, and goals change.
Disentangling two lives is often complex and only more complicated the longer the couple has been together. Many couples decide to get divorced but put it off to get everything organized, and a postnuptial agreement is a way to do that. You can agree on:
- Spousal support
- Child custody and support
- Division of assets and liabilities
Discuss Spending Concerns With Your Lawyer
It is recommended that you seek representation from a divorce lawyer as soon as you recognize that there is a likelihood of your marriage coming to an end. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with personalized advice that helps you protect your assets. A lawyer can also take steps on your behalf, and that may include filing for divorce. Once that process is set in motion, both you and your spouse have to file a financial affidavit called a Statement of Net Worth. That affidavit can make it much easier to prove that wasteful spending occurred.
Close Joint Financial Accounts
The process of disentangling your lives financially should begin with the termination of any financial accounts for which you are jointly responsible. These can include:
- Credit cards
- Home equity lines of credit
- Joint checking and savings accounts
Track Spending and Keep Receipts
Carefully track all spending that occurs during this period, including your own. If you notice an unreasonable expenditure, write it down, and keep any receipts or other official documentation related to it. If there is documentation that you may lose access to later, make copies of it, and store those copies in a safe place and somewhere other than the marital home.
Assistance With Protecting Your Marital Property
If you are considering divorce or are in the process of divorcing and fear the misuse of marital assets by your spouse, the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner is here to help. Joanne Kleiner is a Pennsylvania family law attorney with more than 25 years of experience in handling divorces, and she has dealt with many cases involving the dissipation of marital assets. To schedule a confidential case review at our Jenkintown office, call us at 215-886-1266 or use the contact form on our website.