Southern California Family Law Blog

revenge divorce shopping spree

A revenge divorce shopping spree is not a good idea.

You and your spouse have decided to split up. Things haven’t been going well for some time and neither of you are happy, so divorce looks like the last remaining option. Now, if ever there was a time for it, sounds like a good time to engage in some “retail therapy.” Nothing like a trip to Saks Fifth Avenue, or a relaxing weekend spa getaway to clear your mind and help ease the pain. Besides, any money you blow through now is just less money for your soon to be ex-spouse when you finally sign those divorce papers, right?

Wrong. In California, the wanton spending of community assets with the intent to deprive your spouse of those assets during a divorce is considered dissipation. When courts find out about the spending (and they have a number of ways in which they can) there are financial consequences they can impose on you when it comes time to divide your marital assets.

It is important to understand what a California divorce court considers dissipation, and how your spending habits reflect on you in the eyes of the law. While keeping a cool head during a divorce is difficult, responsibly managing your finances can ultimately help you obtain a favorable outcome in your divorce.

The Dissipation of Marital Assets

The dissipation of marital assets is commonly defined as the wasting of community or quasi-community assets by way of extravagant spending, borrowing, or fraudulent transfer to some third party.1 This can include:

  • One spouse intentionally maxing out credit cards with frivolous purchases
  • Spending money on an extramarital affair, or
  • Trying to hide jointly owned property or funds by temporarily transferring them to a friend or family member

Other less obvious forms of spending can also be considered dissipation of marital assets. This includes gambling expenses, as well as spending due to drug or alcohol addiction.2

What doesn’t count as dissipation? Normal business expenses which are within the range of day-to-day spending and hobbies that both parties enjoyed or approved of during the marriage are not dissipation. Personal living expenses are also not usually considered dissipation.

How Do Courts Deal with Dissipation of Marital Assets?

Division of property

Division of property is very complicated in California divorce cases.

California law requires the early disclosure of all community and quasi-community assets, earnings and liabilities both at the start of a divorce proceeding as well as at the end.3 This includes any real or personal property, income, personal living expenses, and debts whether existing or contingent.4

To aid in this, spouses will sometimes retain, and the court will sometimes appoint, forensic accountants who specialize in finding hidden assets and accounting inconsistencies.

California is a “community property” state, which means that all assets acquired during a marriage belong to both parties. This includes both property and income. If the court determines that you have dissipated community assets, then the judge may award a greater distribution of the communal assets to your spouse. Further, if the court finds that you lied when disclosing your assets during the divorce process, you could face perjury charges, which are punishable by up to four years in jail.5

Contact a Wallin & Klarich Family Law Attorney Today

Going through a divorce is incredibly stressful, and being accused of dissipation can have serious consequences on the outcome of your divorce. You need an experienced divorce attorney who will fight for you every step of the way. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled family law attorneys have been successfully representing our clients in family law and divorce matters for over 30 years. We can help you, too.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney can help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us at (888) 749-7428 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

1. []
2. [Id.]
3. []
4. [Id.]
5. []

Why You Should Hire an Attorney Before Filing for Divorce

Going through a divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences you ever face. Divorces are often filled with high levels of stress, anxiety, tension and conflict. The complex court process can also make it overwhelming if you try to face it alone. That is why it is important to hire an attorney if you are thinking of filing for divorce. In fact, hiring an at… Continue Reading.......

Helping a Child Adjust to Divorce and Separation

When parents separate and move apart, children often have uncertainty as far as when they will see each of their parents and where they will live. This change from their usual routine can be confusing and upsetting and can cause children to be afraid. The court recognizes this situation as a serious concern and encourages parents to adopt a “parenting plan” f… Continue Reading.......

How Will the Judge Decide Child Custody and Visitation in my Case?

The law says that judges must award child custody according to what is in the “best interest of the child.” To decide what is best for a child, the court will consider:
  • The age of the child;
  • The health of the child;
  • The emotional ties between the parents and the child;
  • The ability of the parents to care for the child;
  • Any history of family violence or substance abus
Continue Reading.......

Does Spousal Support Terminate When My Ex Gets Re-Married? (Family Code 4337)

Getting through the divorce process is mentally frustrating, physically challenging, and emotionally exhausting, as you find yourself trying to untangle your life from that of your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Divorces often evolve into lengthy disputes over custody of the children and which of you owns different pieces of property. If you are going through… Continue Reading.......

Don’t Let a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Ruin Your Career

  A recent Wallin & Klarich client was falsely accused of domestic violence and had a request for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) filed against him. A temporary restraining order was granted against him and he did not know where to turn. He knew that if a permanent restraining order were to be granted, it would ruin his career. The clien… Continue Reading.......

Should Parental Alienation Be a Crime?

The negative affects that divorce has on children are well documented.1 With about half of all marriages ending in divorce, many children are likely to be affected.2 But in the face of this fact, many parents and families (not to mention the legal system) have become adept at anticipating how a child will react to divorce, and what services and support can mak… Continue Reading.......

Does Reunification Therapy Combat the Effects of Child Custody Battles?

When a divorce turns nasty, parents fighting over the custody of their children will sometimes let their anger and frustration turn into spousal vilification. It’s easy enough to imagine; you have just gone through a life-changing series of events leading to divorce, and now your former spouse is trying to assert a legal authority over your children. You s… Continue Reading.......