Parties are in divorce proceedings. Final orders are not entered yet. The wife is ordered to make mortgage payments on the marital home she lived in. She was ordered to make payments on the rental property.

She collected the rent from that property each month. She fails to make either payment. The marital home went into foreclosure. She spent other monies that were under her control.

Parties are back in court. Husband alleges that Wife disposed of assets valued at over $15,000. She dissipated assets by not paying the mortgages. She took the rental income. She should reimburse him for any losses to him. She should be responsible.

The husband must first make a showing of the Wife’s dissipation. Then, it shifts to the Wife to refute those claims against her. She must prove by clear and specific evidence how the money was spent. The wife gave vague testimony about how she spent the money. She gave some to her attorneys. She could not remember other things she did with the money.

The court agreed with the Wife’s testimony. There was no dissipation. Husband appealed.

The Appellate Court reversed. There was dissipation.

Dissipation refers to a spouse’s use of the marital property for his or her sole benefit. For a purpose unrelated to the marriage. At a time when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown. This depends on the facts of each case.

Vague and general testimony that marital assets were used for marital expenses is not enough. The wife has to show by clear and specific evidence how funds were spent. If she does not do so, she is charged with dissipation.

An act may constitute dissipation even though a spouse does not necessarily derive a personal benefit from it. Did the expenditure has some detrimental effect on the marital estate? Did the Wife use marital funds for her own living expenses? Was It so selfish, excessive, and improper? Was it an outright waste of marital funds? Yes to all of these questions.

In re Marriage of Brown, 2015 IL App (5th) 140062.

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