While you are still married, your marital assets are jointly owned. During a divorce, both spouses are still financially accountable to each other regarding these assets. Unfortunately, sometimes spouses are caught dissipating assets while the divorce is pending. A spouse is dissipating assets when he or she makes non-routine, unusually large, or unnecessary purchases without a court order or the other spouse’s consent. Spouses may do this on purpose in an attempt to get back at the other spouse or to entertain a new lover, or because they do not understand the consequences of spending marital assets during a divorce. Meeting your basic living expenses and making normal day-to-day purchases is not dissipation, even if not discussed with the other spouse first.

Dissipating or wasting marital assets reduces the stock of marital assets to be divided between the two spouses in the divorce. An example of dissipating assets would be going out and buying a new car during the divorce without the consent of your spouse. Typically, the courts will consider any wasted assets when making a judgment on a property division or alimony order. A spouse who dissipates marital assets during the divorce may be liable to compensate the other spouse for his or her share. This usually means the other spouse may be awarded more assets in the judgment. For example, if one spouse took $5,000 in marital assets for his or her own benefit, the other spouse may be awarded an extra $5,000 in the property division.

If you are concerned about how your assets have been handled in the divorce, don’t write off divorce mediation as a solution. An attorney may be able to hold your spouse liable in court for assets wasted, but your share might be immediately sunk into attorney’s fees. Remember, a fair asset division should be your goal. You can counterbalance misused funds in mediation by giving more assets to the spouse who did not dissipate or misuse assets. An experienced Massachusetts divorce mediator will be able to provide you and your spouse with the guidance and information needed to ensure you can divorce efficiently and amicably while preserving assets so you can both benefit from them.

If you have questions about avoiding financial mistakes in your divorce, contact Mediation Advantage Services for experienced family law help. Law Office of Polly Tatum can assist you and your spouse with mediating your divorce amicably, saving you time, money, and stress. Based in historic Worcester with a satellite office in Northboro, MA, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County including, Auburn, Paxton, Leicester, Sutton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, Holden, Sterling, Princeton, Worcester, Charlton, Millbury, Dudley, Spencer, Brookfield, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham, Hopkinton, Milford, Blackstone, Leominster, Fitchburg, Acton, Jefferson, Barre, Oakham, Cambridge, Newton, Marlboro, Lancaster, Bolton, and Hudson. Call our office at (508) 466-4734, fill out our online form, or email us at info@mediationadvantage.com today to schedule your Complimentary Mediation Success Planning Session. You can also sign up for our eNewsletter or download our free e-book for more information regarding divorce in Massachusetts.