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What happens if your spouse gives away property before your divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2023 | Divorce

Movies and TV shows have depicted angry and bitter spouses giving away their partner’s belongings or even burning them after finding out they were unfaithful. You may have even seen ads on social media marketplaces where people sell items for huge discounts or give them away.

In some situations, one spouse will do this even if the other person did nothing nefarious but decided to end the marriage.

If you are in this situation, you may wonder if you have any legal rights or options to protect your property. This is a good question and something we will explore here.

Destroying property is a type of dissipation

In most marriages, many items a couple owns are marital property. This means both people in the marriage have an ownership interest in the assets. This is true even if just one person uses the property.

If your spouse does something that deprives you of the value of any of your marital property, the courts may consider that to be a dissipation of marital assets. This is a type of wasteful spending, and how some people create financial hardships for their spouses.

With the proper documentation, holding someone accountable for selling your property or assets for less than market value or giving them away is possible.

Dissipation can occur in other ways too. For example, if your spouse maxes out your joint credit cards or goes on a shopping spree, this will be a type of dissipation and impact the property division process.

Gathering evidence to prove financial misconduct

If you notice your spouse is selling your belongings or giving them away on social media, get screenshots of the post. You should also try to find documents or receipts that you purchased or owned the property during your marriage. Knowing your legal rights and options in this situation will help you protect them.