During a Colorado divorce, either the spouses or the courts have to decide how to split shared property. Unfortunately, knowing that asset division is imminent can motivate some people to do some unethical and even illegal things.
Trying to reduce the value of the marital estate so that their spouse doesn’t receive much is something a surprising number of people consider during a divorce. Intentionally diminishing the value of your shared asset is marital dissipation, and it is something that the courts frown on when making decisions.
You need to be on the lookout for three of the more common ways that one spouse could try to deprive the other of their fair share of marital resources.
1) They give away your property or sell it for a ridiculous price
You expected your share of the cabin’s value in the divorce but then discovered that your ex had signed the deed over to their brother for only $1,000. Since it wasn’t your primary residence, there was no paperwork demanding your approval for the sale as a spouse. However, while the property was in their name, you absolutely paid it off with marital income.
One spouse giving away property that both should own or selling it for below market value is a way to diminish the estate. In some cases, the person giving that property away has an arrangement with the other party to reclaim the possessions later. Even if they don’t, you should still receive your fair share of the real value, not the unfair price they accepted.
2) They empty your bank account or rack up credit card debt
The courts divide what you own and what you owe in a divorce. Your spouse might try to reduce what you own by spending a huge amount of money on frivolous things.
Provided that you can show that this spending only benefited your ex and not the household and that it was inconsistent with previous habits and therefore motivated out of spite, you may be able to have the courts consider the amount of money they wasted.
The same is true of debts accrued during the last weeks of your marriage and after separation. Debt accrued out of spite may remain the responsibility only of the person making the charges.
3) Adultery can be a major source of dissipation, too
Some people engage in a relationship to get back at their ex during a divorce or when the marriage starts falling apart before the spouses even separate. If your spouse has spent household assets on an extramarital affair, you may be able to build the case for all of that spending constituting dissipation as well.
Getting copies of your financial records and having help with examining them can go a long way toward protecting your right during a contentious divorce and holding your spouse accountable if they did intentionally dissipate your shared property.