What is Dissipation and How Does the Court Handle It?
Under Maryland Law, and in most jurisdictions, dissipation is the expenditure of marital assets for the principal purpose of reducing the funds available for equitable distribution. It usually occurs when one spouse uses marital property for their own benefit for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time when the marriage is undergoing an “irreconcilable breakdown.”‘ The Courts generally do not find dissipation when marital funds are used to pay attorneys’ fees. Usually, dissipation is found when one party uses marital funds for things like: a prostitute, gifts for a paramour, or extravagance far more than what would be normal family expenses. The burden of proof in most jurisdictions, both expenditures themselves, as well as the persuasion that the funds were used in a manner that deprived the other spouse in such a way that the court may make that determination, lies with the party making the allegation of dissipation. Generally, the court has great discretion in making that determination.
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Cheryl Hepfer is a highly-regarded attorney who has practiced family law for more than 40 years. She has been rated by her peers and is listed in Best Lawyers in America and as a top lawyer in the Washingtonian, Bethesda Magazine, and Super Lawyers. She is past president of both the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers.
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