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Divorce In New York: What Is Marital Waste?


Financial disagreement is an issue present in almost all divorces. But what does it mean if one spouse makes a claim of marital waste? While you should contact a divorce lawyer to get a proper understanding of this topic, this post explains the basics of understanding what is meant by the term “marital waste.”

Throughout a marriage, the property, income and assets obtained and achieved by a couple form their marital estate. During divorce that estate, along with debts and liabilities, are divided through agreement by the parties or resolution by the court. If spousal maintenance cannot be agreed upon, that issue is also decided by the court.

So-called “marital waste” comes into play during the property division phase of a divorce.

In making determinations concerning property division and maintenance, New York law provides the court with legal factors to aid in making an equitable ruling. One of the factors reviewed by the court in making these financial decisions is the wasteful disposition of assets by either spouse.

The idea of marital waste speaks to the squandering or waste of the marital estate by one spouse either throughout the marriage or more noticeably after the marriage has broken down. Typically claims of marital waste must be accompanied by documentation of damage to the marital estate that may come in the form of:

  • Disposal or transfer of money or assets to a family member or other person prior to separation
  • Money spent on extramarital affairs, drugs or gambling expenses incurred by one spouse prior to divorce
  • Sale of assets below value

If the dissipation of assets can be proven, a judge will likely address the waste through restoration of assets or monies to the wronged spouse. If you have concerns about property division or the issue of marital waste in New York, consult skilled legal counsel.