Dissipating Marital Assets Before Divorce

divorce lawyer Katie PetersenQuestion:

My wife has been giving money to her relatives and buying them gifts without my knowledge or consent. She is spending our joint money as she pleases.

Can these costs be included as part of the final settlement? If not, can I give money to my relatives as well without being held accountable for these funds in the divorce proceedings?


I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Georgia divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.

Some jurisdictions have automatic domestic standing orders that apply to all domestic cases filed in the area.

For instance, in one of the counties I practice in an order states, “Each party to a divorce or separate maintenance action is hereby enjoined and restrained from selling, encumbering, trading, contracting to sell, or otherwise disposing or removing from the jurisdiction of the court, any of the property belonging to the parties except in the ordinary course of business.”

If there is an order that applies to your case that includes similar language, then you may be able to file a contempt action against her for violating the order, depending on the text of the order and her specific actions. If she in fact violated a standing order, she may be subject to sanctions.

If you have not yet separated or filed for divorce, your wife has the ability to spend your joint money as she pleases. However, if your wife is intentionally depleting the estate in contemplation of the divorce, the court could include the intentionally depleted assets in the wife’s portion of the estate division. Unfortunately, it could be very difficult to prove that her conduct was in contemplation of divorce.

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You should definitely not give money to your relatives to intentionally deplete your marital assets. If your divorce is pending and you are subject to a standing order, you may be held liable for contempt and be subject to sanctions, just like your wife.

If you are not yet separated and have not filed, you still should not give your money away to relatives. The court may consider both parties’ conduct during the marriage when determining spousal support and division of marital property. The court will likely look unfavorably upon your conduct and that may be reflected in the court’s final order.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Atlanta Divorce Lawyer Katherine Petersen, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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