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Before Divorce Is Final, Be Careful How You Spend Money

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When it comes to assets and property created during marriage, California law provides that each spouse is entitled to one half during a divorce. Because of this, you must be very careful how you treat your income, cash, and other property until the judge issues your divorce decree.

Unless this has happened, your spouse is still entitled their half of community property. If you spend community property in a manner that could be considered unrelated to your marriage, you may be accused of wasteful dissipation. If such an accusation succeeds, it could affect how much property is considered your half during property division.

What Is Wasteful Dissipation?

Wasteful dissipation happens when one spouse wastes or intentionally fails to protect community assets. If you just found out your spouse wants a divorce and spend your next paycheck on whatever you want in retaliation, this may be considered wasteful dissipation.

Other behaviors that can be considered wasteful dissipation include:

  • Gambling with marital assets
  • Spending marital money on alcohol and drugs
  • Giving relatives cash without your spouse’s consent
  • Spending large sums of money on an extramarital relationship

If your spending habits reflect behaviors like those listed above, your spouse may argue during divorce that you engaged in wasteful dissipation. As a result, your half of community property may be reduced to account for wasteful dissipation.

What Isn’t Wasteful Dissipation?

Wasteful dissipation doesn’t include every apparently risky behavior. For example, investing a lot of money in a business or trading stocks is unlikely to be considered wasteful dissipation because the end result serves the interests of both spouses.

In an investment scenario, a spouse would have to prove that the other intentionally made poor investment choices for the purposes of wasting community property, which can be harder to do than it may seem.

Does Your Divorce Involve Wasteful Dissipation?

Whether you are accused of wasteful dissipation or you have concerns about how your spouse has treated community property, you can reach out to Claery & Hammond, LLP for help. With our representation, we can help you defend against accusations of wasteful dissipation to protect your half of community property during division.

For more information about our legal assistance, schedule a free consultation when you contact Claery & Hammond, LLP online.


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