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How to handle a spouse’s financial misconduct during divorce

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Divorce |

Bad behavior is unfortunately quite common during modern divorce proceedings. Either spouse could do something unethical or potentially even illegal. In some cases, people use household finances or resources as a way to punish their spouse or feel like they win in the divorce.

Attempting to manipulate the financial outcome of a divorce could involve certain types of financial misconduct that can have an impact on the overall divorce process. One spouse might hide assets, demand help paying for inappropriate debts or destroy marital resources. Those who suspect or notice financial misconduct may wonder what impact the behavior of their spouse might have on the divorce.

Spouses can demand accountability

As a general rule, family law judges do not consider marital misconduct when making major divorce decisions in a no-fault divorce filing. The inappropriate behavior of either spouse is unlikely to have much of an impact on the outcome of the divorce process, as judges must focus on fairness rather than on punishment. However, financial misconduct is the one frequent exception to that rule. When people engage in inappropriate economic behavior during a marriage or immediately prior to a divorce, judges can factor that financial misconduct into their property division determinations.

Dissipation or intentional damage to the marital estate could affect a judge’s property decision choices. They could exclude debts taken on maliciously from the marital estate. They could also determine the value of assets destroyed or wasted to hold someone accountable for that misconduct. Even the money spent conducting an affair could potentially alter property division determinations.

In cases involving financial infidelity or one spouse lying about their income or debt during a marriage, that misconduct could influence what a judge believes is fair and reasonable during the divorce process. Those with more complex marital estates and those facing more contentious divorces need to prepare for the possibility of their spouses acting out financially during a divorce.

Hiring a forensic accountant and going over financial records carefully could help people find proof that could affect property division proceedings in a divorce. Financial evidence is key to obtaining justice for economic misconduct conducted in this way.