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Watch your temper: Why destroying marital property is a bad idea

We’ve all seen it before: a television drama in which one spouse, hurt by the fact that they are going through a bitter divorce, takes revenge on their partner by destroying marital assets and frivolously spending money so that their partner gets less when the property is divided. Despite the fact that the situation is made up, we often empathize with the characters because we know that divorce can turn ugly and emotional. That’s why we don’t question the fact that a scenario such as this could easily happen in real life.

When spouses allow their emotions to dictate their actions, contentious disputes are bound to occur. But as we have said time and again on this blog, keeping a cool head is more advantageous than flying off the handle. Our Gaithersburg readers should always keep this in mind, especially because heightened emotions and the act of wasting marital property can lead to serious legal consequences for anyone in Maryland.

As you may already know, property division in Maryland works on the principle of equitable distribution, meaning each spouse gets a fair cut of marital assets during divorce proceedings. As we explained above, some spouses might not want their partner to get their fair share, though, causing them to destroy property in order to exact their revenge.

In the legal realm, this is called the dissipation of assets. Spouses who choose to partake in this behavior risk facing civil action taken by the Courts or their spouse. In situations where a spouse has spent a significant portion of marital assets, the Court may request proof of where the money went. If it went toward marital expenses, a partner may not have a claim for the dissipation of assets. But if a spouse cannot prove assets were spent on marital expenses, then the Court may take action to remedy the situation.

So while destroying marital assets may make for good television drama, it is not a worthwhile practice in real life. In fact, it can lead to serious consequences in the end. So remember: keep calm and talk to an experienced divorce attorney.

Source:, “Dissipation of Marital Assets Law & Legal Definition,” Accessed Nov. 10, 2015

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