Once a divorce is looming, some people change their spending habits. Some start excessive spending expending money on purchases that they never did before, while others start taking trips or signing up for classes. Is any of this spending appropriate during the time you are going through your divorce?

I often run into clients who have been counseled to spend a lot more, apparently to show what that person’s needs are and to validate the request for more money. I think it is fair to say that this is an emotional time for everyone, and some people are not acting in the right way. You shouldn’t be spending any differently during a divorce then you would typically The law in Illinois-domestic relations division, wants everyone to maintain the status quo. If you always spent $400 a month getting your hair done, then it is not a problem. But if you never used to go and now you start, the court is going to look at the reasonableness of what the person is doing.

Spending in Ways Not Beneficial to Your Marriage?

Is it the Dissipation of Marital Assets?

Illinois law requires that you file a document, called a Notice of Intent to Claim Dissipation. That document must be filed 30 days after discovery closes and no later than 60 days before the trial. The notice has to tell the court when the breakdown in your marriage occurred. This is an important element that many people overlook. People are allowed to spend money however they like, and just because you did not like it that your spouse spent $45,000 on a race car, does not necessarily mean it is dissipation.

Is the Marriage Irretrievably Broken?

But let us say you can prove that your marriage underwent an irretrievable breakdown. You can prove that your spouse has been living in the basement for a year, you never go out together, you take separate vacations and you have different friends. Then you have made it through the first hurdle and an examination of the spouse’s expenses needs to be looked at.

One thing the court always asks is “how long has this been going on?” I once had a case in trial where the wife claimed that the husband’s weekly bowling was dissipation. My client testified that he had been bowling weekly for over ten years. The continuation of his bowling habit continued while they were married and after they separated. The judge did not find dissipation.

Spouse Commits a Criminal Act?

Is there an Extramarital Affair?

I remember when golf pro Tiger Woods was going through a divorce and his wife found out about his extramarital affairs and the money spent on them. There could not be a claim for dissipation because her marriage had not broken down, but you have to wonder if it would have broken down a lot earlier if she knew. We can speculate as to the answer and it seems unfair that if your spouse hides something from you, that it cannot be dissipation. If you had known, you would likely have broken up. But that is not the way our law works — you have to be irretrievably broken in order to claim dissipation.

I have had trials where the parties had been separated for 20 years, but neither had gotten around to filing for divorce. Each side made claims of dissipation going back 10 years or more. These types of cases resulted in a change to our statute and now you have a time limit on the claim for dissipation. No dissipation shall be deemed to have occurred prior to 3 years after the party claiming dissipation knew or should have known of the dissipation, but in no event prior to 5 years before the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage.

Watch Your Marital Finances for Excessive Spending

If you decide to go to trial on the issue, then you will need to establish which expenditures are dissipation. Is paying the mortgage from the spouse’s retirement account dissipation? Typically, you would not think so. But each case is fact-specific.

Seek Advice from an Experienced Chicago Divorce Attorney

THIS ARTICLE WAS PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AT: https://illinoislawforyou.com/illinois-divorce/excessive-spending-during-divorce/

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