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How some spouses try to manipulate property division matters

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2023 | Property Division |

Married couples in Indiana usually share their resources and information about their finances. Yet, those preparing for divorce may start withholding some of their income or may become less transparent during discussions about money and other assets. Those actions can lead to more conflict during divorce proceedings. Some people resent the idea of sharing marital property during a divorce so much that they engage in unethical and legally-questionable conduct to feel like they’ll come out on top.

Some people hide assets from their spouses and the courts. Others try to manipulate how much they share with their spouse by reducing the value of the marital estate. The dissipation of marital assets is more common than people realize and can have profound implications for property division proceedings in Indiana.

What constitutes dissipation

To determine whether or not a spouse has engaged in dissipation, people need to understand what dissipation actually is. At its simplest, dissipation is any economic activity intended to damage or diminish the marital states. One of the most common forms of dissipation is one spouse intentionally emptying bank accounts or racking up the massive debts that they expect to divide in the divorce.

Other times, people may give away property that should be part of the marital estate or sell it for far less than its fair market value. Some people will even destroy certain assets so that their spouse can’t keep that property. Intentional efforts to reduce the value of the marital estate will count as dissipation. The courts may also consider money spent on an extramarital affair or other activities that undermine the marital relationship to be a form of dissipation.

When one spouse has financial evidence that the other has wasted or destroyed marital resources or unfairly accrued debts, they can present their evidence of that misconduct to the courts. Judges can exclude certain debts from the marital estate or alter property division decree to reflect the value of the dissipated resources. Proving a spouse’s financial misconduct is generally the first step towards seeking economic justice in an Indiana divorce when unlawful approaches have been embraced by one spouse at the potential expense of the other.