In New Jersey, a judge must try to be fair when splitting up the property of a divorcing couple. What is fair is often open to interpretation, but there are certain standards that apply in many cases. For example, when one spouse does something illegal or unethical in the hopes of getting a more favorable judgment, the courts may rule more heavily in favor of their spouse instead.
If your ex has started flaunting their affair or going on spending sprees since you started discussing divorce, their wasteful habits might affect your eventual settlement.
Intentionally wasting marital property is an act of dissipation
For a divorce to be fair, both parties need to be on equal footing. Having accurate information about household assets and debts is very important. If you can show that your spouse has spent thousands of dollars on hotel rooms, gifts and fancy dinners while committing adultery, the financial records of that wastefulness might help you.
The same is true of debts or wasteful spending that only benefit one spouse. Additionally, one person giving away, selling or destroying marital property can unfairly alter the property division process. Any of those situations might constitute dissipation in the eyes of a New Jersey judge.
How does dissipation affect a divorce ruling?
As you might imagine, family law judges generally frown on those who try to manipulate the system to hurt someone else. At the very least, it is likely that you can avoid financial responsibility for debts incurred due to dissipation. You may also receive assets compensating you for your share of wasted or diminished marital property.
Convincing the judge of dissipation requires good records and careful planning in the early stages of your divorce. An experienced attorney can help.