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Look out for the waste of assets in a Rhode Island divorce

Not every couple in Rhode Island can end their marriage amicably. Sometimes the tensions and arguments that lead to the divorce can linger on throughout the divorce process. This can lead to couples fighting over every last dollar of every asset that they have. Some parties may even go so far as to "dissipate" -- or waste -- marital property.

In general, the dissipation of property involves the squandering of assets in order to keep the other party in the divorce from receiving a fair portion of the marital assets. For example, a person could spend the money gambling or buying things for a new girlfriend or boyfriend. In fact, if one spouse earns substantially more than the other, he or she may have no problem spending money before the divorce is through, knowing that their income will support them post-divorce. However, for those spouses who earn significantly less than their ex, this squandering of assets can be disastrous.

In some states, it is possible to avoid this problem by obtaining an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO.) An ATRO keeps either party from altering the financial status of the marriage once a divorce commences. That being said, an ATRO may not be mandatory, and it may be the case that the attorney for the party that is seeking it has to request one. Therefore, the sooner an ATRO is requested, the better.

It is possible to determine if a spouse has dissipated property prior to the completion of the divorce. First of all, if the spouses have a joint credit card, examining these statements in detail can help a spouse keep abreast of what is being spent. However, it is important to keep in mind that sometimes a company will use a purposely vague name to keep unknown the nature of the business itself.

If a spouse is trying to claim to a court that the other party is dissipating assets, the amount of money spent must be substantial. Moreover, the amount of money spent must be both unusual from what was normally spent, and must also be frivolous. The assistance of a forensic accountant can be helpful.

In the end, it is important to keep track of your ex's finances and spending. An ex's squandering of marital property can prove to be disastrous. If you are unsure as to whether your spouse is wasting assets, you may want to seek legal advice.

Source: Forbes, "What Is Dissipation Of Assets In Divorce And What, If Anything, Can You Do About It?," Jeff Landers, Nov. 1, 2016

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