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b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-costs-money-cash-broken-heart.jpgIn many divorce cases, finances are a major cause of contention. Depending on the complexity of a couple’s circumstances, the divorce process itself can be very expensive. In addition, divorce requires the marital estate, including all marital assets and debts, to be allocated between the parties.

When property division is left to the discretion of the court, Illinois law requires an equitable—not necessarily equal—allocation based on the consideration of a number of factors. These factors normally include the income and resources of each spouse, the contributions of each to the marital estate, and arrangements made for any children. The court must also consider claims of dissipation, or the inappropriate spending of marital assets by one spouse for purposes unrelated to the marriage. But are attorneys’ fees and other expenses of divorce considered “unrelated to the marriage?”

Unclear Statutory Guidance

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) gives the court presiding over a divorce case the authority to order one spouse to contribute toward the payment of attorney fees and related expenses of the other party. The court also has the discretion to order the repayment of dissipated assets to the marital estate by the offending spouse. However, the possibility of considering attorney fees and other divorce expenses as dissipation may not seem to be clearly addressed in the law. Thus, the court may rely on precedents set in previous decisions in making its determination.

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Kane County family law attorneysUnfortunately, divorce can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Some couples who decide to end their marriage are able to do so with relatively little malice, while others fight tooth and nail throughout the entirety of the divorce process. If you are considering or have already decided to divorce and you think your spouse may try to “get even” with you by recklessly spending money or otherwise wasting assets, read on to learn about a legal concept called dissipation.

What Is Considered Dissipation According to Illinois Law?

The Illinois Supreme Court defines dissipation as “the use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time that the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.” Marital property generally refers to income, property, and debt accumulated by either spouse during the course of the marriage. Certain assets such as gifts or inheritance may not be considered marital property. The term “irretrievable breakdown” means that the marriage is ending. A couple who has stopped sharing a bedroom, does not enjoy time together, and does not wish to salvage the marriage would be considered in the midst of an irreconcilable breakdown.

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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree