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When the Washington family courts have to make a decision about how to split up assets during a divorce, one of the first things they will do is establish the value of the marital estate. The couple divorcing will typically provide financial information to the court that will help them decide what would be a fair and reasonable way to handle the assets and debts acquired throughout the marriage.

In order to get a fair share of those assets, you will need to carefully review your financial circumstances and make sure that you put appropriate values on different aspects, like art, collectibles and even real estate investments.

While you may have an eye out for hidden assets, you may not realize that wasting assets can also impact how the courts rule in your divorce. If your spouse intentionally wasted or dissipated marital assets, that could influence property division in your divorce.

What is the dissipation of marital assets?

When two people get married, they generally combine households and finances unless they have a prenuptial agreement that maintains separate finances for each spouse. Income earned and assets acquired during the marriage are marital property that each spouse partially owns.

Some people will do just about anything to reduce how much marital property their spouse gets when they divorce, including dissipating the marital assets. Dissipation is the act of intentionally wasting or diminishing marital assets.

Dissipation can involve giving money or possessions to someone else, selling items for far less than they are worth or spending marital resources for a purpose that does not benefit the married couple. For example, a spouse who spends thousands of dollars in the last month of their marriage to conduct an extramarital affair engages in dissipation because they use marital assets for something that does not benefit the family unit.

How does dissipation affect a divorce?

If you can prove that your spouse intentionally wasted assets or reduced the value of your marital property, the courts may take that into consideration when deciding how to split up your belongings. They may reduce your spouse’s share of the marital estate by the amount that they gave away or wasted.

Proving dissipation is often a challenge, and getting the right help can make it easier for you to show the courts how your spouse wasted resources that you should have had a share of in the divorce.