The bitterness that people feel during divorce can motivate them to do outright unethical things. For example, you may have discovered that your spouse has started giving away, donating or even selling your personal property or assets that you jointly own. Instead of selling it for a reasonable price, they are using garage sale pricing for assets that have emotional or significant financial value.
If you intend to file for divorce, it is natural to worry that your spouse’s wasteful behavior will have a significant impact on your rights. After all, Arizona is a community property state for asset division. The more they give away now, the less you will have a claim to when you divorce. Is there any way to protect yourself?
Document what they give away and try to determine its value
Giving away, destroying or selling assets for a pittance are all examples of intentional dissipation of marital property. Your spouse might have started this behavior with the hope of reducing how much you get in the divorce.
The good news is that if you can document what they have wasted or destroyed and place a price on those assets, you can ask the courts to consider that behavior when splitting up your property. The courts will also consider wasteful spending that diminishes your bank account balance or accrues major debts for your household.
If the courts do rule that your spouse’s behavior constitutes dissipation, it will likely have a direct impact on how the courts split your assets and your debts.
Accurate financial records and asset inventories are critical
The only way to prove that your spouse has given away and wasted property is to have documentation of everything in your marital estate. The sooner you start recording what you own and putting appropriate values on those assets, the more thorough your records will be.
Protecting yourself from dissipation doesn’t just require that you get copies of financial paperwork and keep a record of your physical property. You may need to take more aggressive steps to avoid significant diminishment of your household assets. Discussing your concerns with the lawyer can give you ideas about how to hold your spouse accountable for their inappropriate financial behavior.