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What is marital waste?

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Some can consider divorce as a business transaction. The process includes not only separating spouses but also dividing money and property. 

High-asset divorces, those that have hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars involved, may cause couples’ emotions to get the better of them. Some may take it as far as to spend money or sell assets before the divorce goes before a judge to try to keep the other spouse from getting those assets. 

Dividing property

Georgia uses equitable division when distributing property. The court requires the spouses to disclose everything acquired before and during the marriage. The judge uses several factors to determine what division is fair: 

  • Income and earning capacity 
  • The separate assets and financial position 
  • The conduct of spouses during the marriage 
  • Future needs 
  • Debts 

Recognizing marital waste

As with the other factors of distributing property, the judge considers the problem of dissipation of assets. Dissipation of assets, also known as marital waste, occurs when a spouse: 

  • Squanders money by making extravagant purchases or taking luxury vacations 
  • Gambles more than normal 
  • Loses, sells or transfers property 
  • Intentionally makes poor investments 

Issuing a Standing Order

In Duluth County, the Family Division of the Superior Court requires an Automatic Domestic Standing Order as part of the divorce paperwork. The order remains in effect until the Final Order and regulates the parties’ conduct during the case. 

Item 5 states that each party of the divorce cannot do the following to marital property except during ordinary business: 

  • Sell 
  • Encumber 
  • Trade 
  • Contract to sell 
  • Dispose of or remove 

The Standing Order may also pertain to “agents, servants, employees of the parties, and all other persons acting in concert with such parties.” To accuse a party of violating the order, the offending person must receive notice. The individual has the right for the court to hear the issue. If the court decides the person deliberately failed to obey the order, it may impose sanctions, penalties or imprisonment. 

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