Dissipation: Wasting Money in Divorce

Mary J. Blige, has filed for divorce from her estranged husband, Martin “Kendu” Isaacs. In court filings, there are allegations that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his girlfriends. How does this impact the property division?

Mary has won nine Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards, and has recorded eight multi-platinum albums. She is the only artist with Grammy Award wins in R&B, Rap, Gospel, and Pop. However, she is now concerned about dirty tricks in divorce.

Dirty Tricks

Some couples divorce in a business-like, and even a friendly way. They recognize that coming to a fair end as quickly as possible allows them to get on with their lives.

However, there is no shortage of dirty tricks in divorce. One of the most common is to “dissipate,” or intentionally squander money so a spouse can’t get a fair share of it in the divorce.

Mary and her husband Martin married back in 2003. The divorce cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split. The couple has no children together. Mary is purportedly asking the judge to deny Martin’s ability to get spousal support.

According to TMZ, in recent filings, Martin is accused of having dissipated $420,000 of the parties’ marital funds. Martin was Mary’s manager. So, it could be that much of the money allegedly spent on himself or a girlfriend can be chalked it up as “travel charges.” However, Mary alleges the $420,000 in expenses were not business-related.

Property Division

In Florida divorces, courts distribute the marital assets and liabilities between the parties with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution. I’ve written about various aspects of property division before.

Some of the factors to justify an unequal distribution of the property include things like the financial situation the parties. The length of the marriage, whether someone has interrupted their career or an educational opportunity, or how much one spouse contributed to the other’s career or education.

Dissipation and Waste

One of the relevant factors courts look to is whether one of the parties intentionally dissipated, wasted, depleted, or destroyed any of the marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.

Spouses could dissipate assets by spending money on girlfriends, as Mary alleges. Other instances of waste have included gambling losses, and drug usage. Some people would rather lose the money outright than split it with their spouses.

Where this kind of marital misconduct results in a depletion or dissipation of marital assets, it can serve as a basis for unequal division of marital property. Alternatively, the misconduct can also be assigned to the spending spouse as part of that spouse’s equitable distribution.

Martin is purportedly asking for more than $110,000 per month in spousal support, which Mary objects to. Mary is quoted as saying: “I am not responsible for supporting [Martin’s] parents and his children from another relationship which he lists as ongoing monthly expenses.”

The TMZ article is here.