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What is Marital Waste?

Updated October 2017

In the United States, the likelihood of a marriage ending in divorce is almost fifty percent. When a divorce is underway, financial disagreement between the spouses is an issue that is almost inevitable. A spouse’s spending habits can impact a marital relationship and also may be significant during a divorce proceeding. When misconduct is found on the part of a spouse relating to the finances of the marriage prior to separation, the aggrieved spouse may assert the claim of marital waste during the proceeding. For these types of case, you’ll probably need a professional New York divorce lawyer.

The average affair costs $444 a month and lasts six months. But that’s just an average. Some affairs last much longer and are more costly. Some can cost $10,000 or more a month! And the courts will consider this marital waste—this dissipation of marital funds—when issuing divorce decrees.

Marital Waste Defined

One of the factors looked at by the court in a New York divorce proceeding when deciding how to distribute marital property is the wasteful disposition of assets by either spouse, also known as marital waste. Also referred to as the dissipation of assets, marital waste is when a spouse intentionally destroys or depletes marital property that would otherwise have been available to be distributed between the two spouses during a divorce proceeding. New York is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court distributes assets that are considered marital property at the time of a divorce proceeding equitably – not necessarily equally – without regard to title. Marital misconduct, if proven successfully, can affect the distribution of the property.

Examples of Marital Waste

The marital estate may be comprised of assets, liabilities, real and personal property, and goods at the time of a divorce. If a court finds that a spouse wasted marital assets, the wrongfully deprived spouse may be given a greater distribution of the remaining marital property as compensation for the misconduct by the spouse and dissipation of the assets. Some clear examples of marital waste include:

• Money spent by one spouse on extramarital affairs;
• The transfer or disposal of assets by one spouse to another person prior to separation;
• The sale of marital assets below the market value;
• Engaging in unreasonable entertainment expenses prior to separation; and
• Money spent on illegal activities such as gambling, drugs or prostitution.

If a business is considered part of the marital property, wasteful dissipation may be found if a spouse fails to recuperate value from an unsuccessful enterprise. Furthermore, the failure to maintain or repair marital property may also be found to be wasteful by the court.

What is an Affair?

To better understand this, it’s important to know the legal definition of an affair. There are actually two types of affairs: physical and emotional. As the name implies, a physical affair involves physical contact, such as touching, kissing, and sex. Emotional affairs involve emotions—thoughts and feelings that are typically reserved for those in a relationship. They may include flirtatious emails, texts, and phone calls. Emotional affairs are becoming more common as social media and online chat apps allow people from all the world to communicate with each other and carry on affairs without even meeting each other.

Affairs and Divorce Settlements

An affair can greatly affect how couples settle their divorces, with the spouse who is cheated on often receiving a larger settlement. Infidelity is a common issue in divorces and if a person is caught, they will likely have to answer questions about their actions in court. Obviously, this can be very embarrassing to all parties involved, so in order to avoid confrontation, it’s not uncommon for the cheating party to offer more to the table if you will. Instead of splitting assets 50/50, the cheating spouse may offer 75 percent of assets to the wronged spouse, or pay millions of dollars just to make everything go away. By doing this, this keeps attorneys and the cheating spouse’s lover from getting involved, which reduces the amount of drama in a divorce significantly.

Cost of an Affair

The sky’s the limit when it comes to affairs. Depending on how wealthy the spouse is, he or she may be treating their lover to expensive dinners and jewelry. Some men even buy expensive condos and apartments for their girlfriends. The spurned spouses have an idea that their spouses are cheating, so they hire a private investigator, and at $100 an hour or so, this adds, even more, costs to the affair.

Let’s not forget about emotional costs. Knowing that your husband or wife betrayed you can be a devastating blow. There is guilt and loss of self-esteem. It can be hard to trust someone again after such an event.

Contact a New York Divorce Lawyer for Assistance

Divorce can be an extremely stressful and emotional process. According to New York law, a court will equitably distribute the marital property and spousal misconduct may affect the division of the assets.

If you are concerned about marital waste or property distribution in your New York divorce, contact a skilled New York divorce lawyer for a legal consultation. Brooklyn-based divorce attorneys at Alatsas Law Firm have years of expertise in divorce proceedings and serve clients in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan and Long Island. For a free consultation, call us today at (718)-233-2903 or fill out a contact form.