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Family and Criminal Law Blog

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dissipation of Marital Assets in Texas

What are the consequences for wasting marital assets in Texas?

Divorce can get ugly, and sadly some bitter spouses will do anything to avoid giving their spouse a fair cut of the marital assets. One of the most common ways in which a spouse can reduce the number of marital assets is through marital waste. When a spouse intentionally squanders marital assets in order to prevent the other spouse from receiving a fair share, this is considered marital waste.  Texas courts can take action to prevent marital waste or make the spouse who lost their assets whole again through a money judgment award.  

What is Marital Waste?

Texas is a community property state, meaning that all assets acquired during the marriage will be deemed marital property subject to equitable division if the spouses divorce. When a divorce is pending, both spouses are allowed to use marital funds solely for necessary and reasonable expenses, such as to pay the mortgage, electricity bills, food, and the like. Texas law prohibits the spouses from dissipating marital property for extravagant expenses like:

  • Taking out a loan that is not authorized by the other spouse

  • Giving large gifts to friends or family members

  • Spending funds on vacations

  • Withdrawing large sums of money

These are just a sample of some spending that may be considered wasteful and subject to court action. Should you suspect that your spouse is wasting marital assets, you should seek the help of the divorce court.

Temporary Restraining Order

Texas divorce judges can issue an automatic temporary restraining order to prevent a spouse from transferring a large portion of the couple’s marital assets during the divorce. At times, a TRO will issue automatically upon filing for divorce, other times you will need to seek such an order.

If your spouse has already wasted marital assets, you will need the help of a divorce attorney to calculate the amount of marital waste. You will then move the court to divide the remaining assets, with the wasteful spouse receiving a lesser share. At times, the court will award the wronged spouse a money judgment against the spouse who wasted the assets. Wasting marital assets is always wrong and can lead to penalties by the court, so spouses in doubt as to whether an expense is authorized should consult with a family law attorney.


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