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Marital waste and divorce: Protecting your financial interests

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Property Division

When a marriage dissolves, financial assets and liabilities become subject to division, and mismanagement of these resources can lead to significant losses.

One issue that can arise during divorce is marital waste, which occurs when one spouse squanders marital assets during the breakdown of the marriage. Understanding marital waste and its implications can help protect your financial interests during a divorce.

What is marital waste?

Marital waste, also known as dissipation of assets, refers to the spending or misuse of marital funds by one spouse in a way that is not in the best interests of the marital partnership, particularly when the marriage is on the rocks.

This can include excessive spending on personal luxuries, gambling, gifts to third parties or hiding assets. It’s important to note that not all spending during a separation will be considered marital waste. For example, everyday living expenses typically wouldn’t be considered wasteful.

How does marital waste affect divorce?

In Massachusetts, courts have the authority to consider marital waste when dividing marital property during a divorce. The wasting spouse may receive a smaller share of the marital estate to compensate for their irresponsible behavior. The court will consider the amount wasted, the length of the marriage and the overall financial situation of both parties.

Additionally, the court may order the wasting spouse to reimburse the marital estate for the wasted funds. This could involve selling separate assets or taking on additional debt.

What can you do to protect yourself?

If you suspect your spouse may be wasting marital assets, it’s important to take action to protect your financial interests. A good place to start is to collect copies of bank statements, credit card statements, investment records and any other documentation of your marital finances.

In some cases, you may be able to request a court order to freeze marital assets, preventing your spouse from further dissipation.

Marital waste can be a significant factor in a Massachusetts divorce settlement. Understanding your rights and the potential consequences for a spouse who has squandered marital assets is crucial. By gathering evidence and seeking legal counsel, you can help ensure a fair and equitable division of property during your divorce.