One of the more contentious parts of some divorces is the identification and division of marital property.

Divorce lawyers find that in some difficult cases, spouses who cannot agree on what constitutes marital property or how it should be handled will squander those assets before the divorce is finalized.

Texas is a community property state, which means that divorce attorneys and their clients must collectively negotiate how marital assets are to be distributed.

Any spouse found by a divorce law firm or by the court to be intentionally interrupting this process by using or spending assets could jeopardizing their outcome in the divorce case.

What Is Waste of Marital Property?

In the context of divorce, waste of marital property refers to the dissipation or squandering of marital assets by one spouse for non-marital purposes.

Divorce lawyers see it happening on occasion when spouses cannot agree on how their assets will be dispersed based on their divorce case and the fairest way it should be done.

The wasting of marital assets can include using marital funds for extramarital affairs, gambling, or other activities that do not benefit the marriage.

Experienced divorce attorneys sometimes find clients’ spouses exhibiting this behavior as a means of enjoying the assets themselves rather than being forced to split them when they are disputing the divorce or any potential court decisions about those assets.

To prevent it in instances where it might be likely, courts can assign temporary orders that prevent a spouse from wasting marital assets before it has all been properly identified and legally distributed.

How Is Marital Property Defined In A Divorce Case?

Marital property refers to assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage.

This includes financial resources, owned property, and other assets that the state of Texas deems to be marital property and owned by both spouses.

Divorce law firms point out how the inclusion of debt is especially important when suspicions of waste of marital property arise, as marital debt must be divided among the spouses just like their wealth.

Because of this, waste of marital property can be taken into consideration when dividing the marital assets and debts during a divorce proceeding.

What Can Be Done?

When a divorce lawyer discovers that waste of marital property may be occurring during a divorce proceeding and a court determines this to be true, there are several remedies that may be applied.

These may include:

  1. Asset Distribution - When a spouse and their divorce attorney discover that the wasting of marital assets has occurred, the court may award a larger portion of the marital assets to the non-wasting spouse. This is intended to compensate the non-wasting spouse for the assets that were squandered by the other spouse.
  2. Reimbursement or Restitution - If waste of marital property is discovered, the wasting spouse may be ordered by the court to pay back the value of the assets that were wasted to the non-wasting spouse.
  3. Imputing Income - Divorce law firms also see instances where the court imputes income to the wasting spouse, which would increase their financial obligation to the non-wasting spouse. This is intended to compensate for the loss of assets.
  4. Awarding Attorney Fees and Costs - The court may award divorce attorney fees and costs to the non-wasting spouse if they incurred them as a result of the wasting spouse's actions.
  5. Penalties Against Wasting Spouse - In severe cases, courts may also impose other penalties such as contempt of court, fines, and even imprisonment against the wasting spouse.

Discuss These Issues With An Experienced Divorce Attorney

Waste of marital property is a serious concern that some spouses may come across in a contentious or difficult divorce.

Spouses should enlist the assistance of a divorce lawyer who can help them determine whether a spouse is squandering marital assets and what should be done about it.

A divorce law firm experienced with difficult divorces and those that involve disputes over marital assets can help.

Schreier & Housewirth Family Law

1800 West Bowie Street, Suite 200-E
Fort Worth TX 76110



Gregory L. Housewirth is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist practicing in Fort Worth Texas. With 30 years of family law experience, Mr. Housewirth has represented hundreds of clients in divorce, custody, CPS, modification, and grandparent cases. In addition, Mr. Housewirth is a qualified family law mediator and a member of Collaborative Law Texas, a practice group dedicated to promoting collaborative divorce in Texas.



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