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When Assets Go to Waste

Which of these examples would be considered marital waste?

  • Upon being asked for a divorce, a spouse goes on a spending spree, running up the balance on jointly held credit cards.
  • Throughout the marriage, a spouse drinks to excess and gambles away the proceeds of an investment account held by the couple.
  • A couple separates when one spouse learns the other has been having an affair for several years, using marital monies to fund the relationship.

The answer is all of them. The marital estate comprises the possessions, assets, goods and liabilities a couple brings to the table during a divorce. In New York, property is divided equitably. Reaching an agreement with your spouse during divorce that divides assets fairly benefits you both. Failing to do so means the court will divide your assets.

Sometimes a spouse unfairly uses, loses or wastes value of the marital estate. The court looks at marital waste as wasteful dissipation of marital assets and takes the unjust use of assets into account when making decisions about the division of property.

While some cases of marital waste seem obvious, others are less so. If one spouse takes out a business loan, struggles to make the enterprise work and loses the business in the end, the marital estate is diminished and possibly saddled with debt. Nevertheless, the undertaking was done in good faith with the idea of improving the economic condition of the couple.

Claims of marital waste are not uncommon property division matters go before a court. If you’re claiming or defending the wasteful dissipation of marital property, gather your documentation and speak with the experienced family law attorneys of Bryan L. Salamone and Associates, P.C.

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