Can a spouse’s bad habits affect property division in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2022 | Divorce |

During your marriage, your spouse’s financial habits can have a major impact on your stability or standard of living. Their behavior can continue to impact your options in life even after you separate by reducing how much marital property or debt you share in the divorce.

When you decide to divorce, you will likely look critically at the financial records for your household over the last few years. If you feel strongly that your spouse has had a negative impact on household finances because of wasteful spending, substance abuse, gambling or possibly conducting an affair, will that affect the division of your property in an Illinois divorce?

You can claim that certain financial habits constitute dissipation

Your shared finances while married mean that either of you can negatively affect one another, but you can also support and help each other too. The courts generally assume that people who get married already know about their spouse’s spending habits.

Often, you won’t be able to ask the courts to penalize your spouse for behavior that has persisted throughout your entire marriage, like spending far more on credit cards than your budget allows. However, if your spouse started spending way more and wasting money when the marriage started floundering, their financial habits may constitute dissipation of marital assets. Spending intended to diminish the marital estate or that damages the marital relationship may constitute dissipation.

Someone who uses all their household’s available credit shopping online the day they get served with divorce paperwork could face penalties for those actions. The courts may view any money spent wooing an affair partner have dissipated marital property as well. Provided that the evidence convinces the judge presiding over the divorce to view certain behavior of dissipation, they can use that financial information when dividing your property.

How dissipation affects property division

A judge handling the equitable division of your property and debts can make numerous different decisions about the best and most appropriate resolution in cases involving wasteful financial habits. They could make one spouse responsible for the debts that they accrued or calculate the total value of one spouse’s financial misconduct and diminish their share of the marital state to reflect that amount.

Understanding the laws governing Illinois divorce can help you seek justice for yourself at the end of your marriage.