Spending of Marital Assets Before Or During A Divorce

June 15, 2022

Spending of Marital Assets Before Or During A Divorce

If you are facing a divorce in Colorado, one of the primary concerns is your financial rights and how your marital property will be divided between you and your divorcing spouse. In Colorado, these assets must be divided between spouses in a manner that is deemed equitable, which means fairly in relation to the relevant circumstances of your marriage and divorce). If, however, your spouse engages in excessive spending of marital assets – or the dissipation of marital assets – it can upset the financial balance and can leave you at a serious disadvantage. If you are concerned that your spouse may be spending excessively in anticipation of divorce – or during the course of your divorce – it is time to reach out to the experienced Colorado divorce attorneys at Johnson Law Group (720-463-4333 for calls and 720-730-4558 for text chats).

Your Marital Property

Colorado’s Family Code addresses the matter of divorce and the equitable division of marital property. Marital property refers to all those assets that you and your spouse accumulated from the time you were married to the time of your divorce – as offset by any debt you incurred during that same time period. These assets are viewed as marital regardless of who paid for them or of who made use of them. For example, even if you purchase a vehicle in your own name while you are married, the vehicle remains part of your marital property. It is important to note that any property that belongs to you alone at the time of your marriage will only remain your separate property if you ensure that it does not become entangled with your marital assets over the course of your marriage (as defined in Colorado’s Rights of Married Persons), which can be difficult to achieve.

Colorado Is a No-Fault Divorce State

Once the matter of divorce is on the table, you and your divorcing spouse’s spending can play a role in its outcome. Colorado is what is known as a no-fault divorce state. This means that misconduct on the part of either party will not play a role in how the divorce terms are resolved, including the division of marital property. This said, however, the court has the legal right and the discretion to adjust the division of marital property in accordance with any conduct by either spouse that amounts to squandering, spending down, or giving away martial assets – known as the dissipation of assets.

The Dissipation or Spending of Marital Assets

The dissipation of assets either before or during a Colorado divorce can amount to spending marital assets on a new romantic partner, wasting marital assets, or both. Consider the following common examples:

  • Spending martial assets to woo a new romantic interest
  • Artificially consuming marital assets
  • Giving away – or otherwise transferring – marital assets
  • Mismanaging marital assets
  • Converting marital assets
  • Otherwise adversely affecting marital assets

The idea is that the assets in question would have been included in the equitable distribution of your marital property if it had not been for this dissipation. In the State of Colorado, the dissipation of marital property is considered an economic fault, which is addressed differently than marital fault. Dissipation claims are assigned the value of the assets at the time they were dissipated.

Marital Wrongdoing

If your spouse has an affair, it is not a material matter in relation to the terms of your divorce, but any spending of marital assets that he or she engages in in relation to that affair may be a material matter. While Colorado courts do not take marital fault – or who caused the marriage to fail – into consideration, they are interested in economic fault or the dissipation of marital assets. For example, extramarital affairs can be extraordinarily expensive, and addressing the matter of economic fault can punish the cheating spouse for this dissipation of assets but cannot do so for the affair itself.

Your Dissipation Claim

If you believe your spouse has or is dissipating marital assets, your burden is demonstrating that he or she engaged in such expenditures – either prior to divorce or during the divorce process. Once this is established, the burden shifts to your divorcing spouse, who must prove that the expenses were legitimate in order to avoid a dissipation adjustment. if the court does rule that your spouse’s spending amounted to dissipation, it will adjust your division of marital property accordingly. If this is the difficult situation you find yourself in, the dedicated Colorado divorce attorneys at Johnson Law Group are standing by to help.

Considerations

Identifying your spouse’s dissipation of assets can be legally challenging, but the primary tools employed include the following:

  • The use of interrogatories in which you ask your spouse for responses to highly specific inquiries
  • Requests for production of financial documents
  • Financial releases
  • Depositions in which your spouse is interviewed (under oath) by your seasoned divorce attorney

It is also important to point out all the following relevant considerations:

  • There is no minimum amount of dissipation required before the court will consider the matter.
  • Excess spending on gambling, drinking, or reckless consumerism can also spark a martial asset dissipation claim.
  • Any kind of bad behavior or wrongdoing that the court considers economic fault suffices when it comes to dissipation claims.
  • Poor business decisions typically do not tip the scale toward dissipation, but business ownership allows considerably more opportunities to dissipate funds.
  • If both spouses agreed to an expenditure – regardless of how suspect it may seem – it cannot be identified as dissipation).

Contact an Experienced Colorado Divorce Attorney to Learn More

If your spouse engages in spending of marital assets that amounts to dissipation, the compassionate Colorado divorce attorneys at Johnson Law Group have a wealth of experience and protect our clients’ financial rights throughout the legal process. For more information about how we can also help you, please do not delay texting us at 720-730-4558 or calling us at 720-463-4333 today.

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