Divorce can bring out the worst in some people, leading them to do things that they usually wouldn't consider. Sometimes, for example, one spouse may take steps to intentionally hide marital assets from the other. They do this in the hope that it will result in more assets for them when the courts finalize the divorce. If caught, the person hiding assets could end up receiving much less as a result of this attempt.
Another common behavior immediately prior to divorce is dissipation of marital assets. At its most basic, this refers to when one spouse uses marital assets for something other than the marital union during the breakdown of the marriage. There are many forms that dissipation can take, and they can definitely impact the outcome of the asset division process.
Gambling or feeding an addiction at the end of a marriage can cost you
People cope with stress in different ways. When your marriage falls apart, it could lead you to act out or seek comfort in inappropriate ways. For example, someone who enjoys gambling could take a trip to a casino and spend thousands of dollars worth of marital assets. Doing so may help that person feel better for a short while, like they "got theirs," but the courts will very likely frown on this behavior.
Similarly, going out and compulsively shopping for items that do nothing to support your marriage or your family, such as designer clothing, could also be dissipation. Whether you spend money from your bank account or wrack up major credit card or retailer debt, the courts could view this act as a form of dissipation, especially if you know your marriage is likely about to end.
Financial gifts or paying for an affair are also likely dissipation
It is not uncommon for people in failing marriages to seek compassion and intimacy from outside their marriage before filing for divorce. While cheating is never a good decision, wasting marital funds to conduct an affair is even worse. Spending your income on fancy hotels, trips, dinners and expensive gifts for someone outside of your marriage can end up impacting the outcome of the asset division process in your marriage. The courts may hold you accountable for those funds and more.
Simply giving gifts or some money to your children or parents isn't always dissipation. However, gifting large sums of money to someone, especially without consulting your spouse, may be. The Illinois laws on dissipation allow spouses to claim dissipation for wasted or misused funds in the last five years or three years after the spouse making the claim likely knew about the dissipation. When filing for divorce, you must also inform your spouse that you intend to pursue a dissipation claim against him or her.