Parties separated and husband moved in with his girlfriend at her house Husband filed for divorce from wife. As part of the court case, wife accused husband of taking money from the marital accounts. She said that he was giving it to his girlfriend for rent. She was accusing him of dissipating marital assets.

Marital assets are dissipated if they are spent on something that is not related to the marriage. Obviously, girlfriend’s house fell into that category.

Wife’s motion specifically referred to a $4,000 check written by husband to his girlfriend.  This was supposedly for 10 months’ rent at the rate of $400 per month. The motion included various expenditures made by husband from marital funds.  Wife claimed that these were for improvements on girlfriend’s home. Wife’s motion also asked that husband reimburse the marital estate for the cost of labor expended in improving girlfriend’s home.

The trial court said that husband did not dissipate assets.  The trial court believed the husband’s testimony.  He said that he paid money to his girlfriend.  This money was to compensate her for rent based.  It was based on the cost of comparable rentals.  The trial court accepted his testimony that he used withdrawals from accounts to pay living expenses.

Wife appealed.

Husband had taken girlfriend on a few short trips. The appellate court did state that half the expenses incurred by husband for such trips were dissipation.

In regard to the rent payments, the court said that rent is a legitimate living expense.  Husband had also been paying rent to his parents when he had been living with them.  It did not constitute dissipation.  The fact that the rent was paid to husband’s paramour did not make it dissipation.

At trial, husband had presented receipts that he claimed were a “representative sample” of his expenditures. He did not have documentation to support every withdrawal. The court held that husband testified to his routine use of the ATM and savings account. The court believed husband’s testimony that the money was used for regular living expenses. Wife argued that the money was not used for husband’s living expenses. She argued that it was used to remodel girlfriend’s house. The court did not agree.

In re Marriage of Manker, No. 4-06-0439 (4th Dist.)

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