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What Happens If My Spouse Spends A Lot Of Money Before Or During A Divorce?

 Posted on January 26, 2017 in Law

Going through a divorce is a stressful process, and many people cope with the feelings in different ways. In rare cases, divorce can bring out the worst sides in people, and their selfish or hurtful actions can have serious ripple effects. One question we hear from time to time in our family law practice is “What happens if my spouse hides money or spends outrageously right before or during the divorce process?”

Unfortunately we’ve seen cases where one spouse decides to spend a good chunk of marital assets either right before the divorce is filed, or during the initial stages of the divorce. Whether they feel slighted or entitled, they spend the money to try to gain something or unfairly hurt their soon to be ex. So how is this viewed by the court of law in Illinois?

Excess Spending Before a Divorce

There are a number of common things a vengeful spouse may look to buy using marital assets either before or during the divorce mediation. Keep an eye out for purchases like:

  • Vacations
  • Automobiles
  • Home
  • Recreational Vehicles
  • Jewelry

These are all tangible things that can be tracked fairly easily, and since you actually have an asset to show, it’s a little easier to seek recourse in the court of law. If the purchase is brought to attention of the court, the judge may grant the item to your ex and grant you assets equal to the¬†purchase price of the item, or they may require the item to be returned or sold and the money from the sale to be divided equally.

Spending On Non-Assets

Tracking large asset purchases is fairly easy to do during a divorce process, but what about money that is spent on non-tangible assets? What if your husband gifted $2,000 to his brother, or your wife took 15 friends out to dinner at a fancy restaurant and picked up the entire tab? There is nothing to get back and divide equally, so how is this handled?

For starters, you want to document everything carefully. Track the spending habits and monitor your bank accounts, and give all this information to your attorney. They may be able to file for an injunction that freezes certain purchases or requires money to only be spent on necessary expenses. It is very important that you do not try to get even on your own, because you can significantly hurt your position in the eyes of the court, and the whole plan can backfire.

Proving the spending habits in court generally comes down to one main point – Was the purchase a regular expense or an extraordinary expense? For example, if you wife typically spent $500-$1,000 a month on clothes, accessories or motorcycle lessons, and those same purchases are made during the process of the divorce, the court won’t view those purchases as a spiteful move to manipulate your soon to be divided assets. However, if the purchase can be shown to be outside of the typical spending habits, the court will likely take recourse during asset division.

For more information on how asset division is handled during a divorce, contact Appelman Law today.

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