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What is “marital waste” in a divorce action?

In a New York divorce, marital waste refers to the dissipation or destruction of marital assets by one spouse during the marriage without the other spouse's knowledge or consent, or for a purpose unrelated to the marriage. Marital waste can take many forms, including excessive spending on gambling, drugs, or extramarital affairs, intentional depletion of a marital asset, such as cashing out a retirement account or selling a marital home without the other spouse's knowledge or consent, and other actions that result in the reduction of marital assets.

Marital waste is quite common in a divorce action, and is typically discovered during the exchange of discovery. Your attorney will find marital waste in a divorce action when the other side exchanges financial statements such as: retirement statements, bank statements, etc.

When marital waste is found/alleged, the court may consider the actions of the spouse in question in dividing marital property and awarding spousal maintenance. The court may also order the spouse who engaged in marital waste to reimburse the other spouse for their share of the dissipated assets or compensate them with a larger share of the remaining marital property or a higher spousal maintenance award. If you believe your spouse is engaging in marital waste you should immediately consult with your attorneys so they can take the necessary and proper action on your behalf.

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