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It is not uncommon that things get messy when a marriage or de-facto relationship is comes to an end. It is also not uncommon for one or both partners to waste the assets of the relationship out of anger or selfishness.

The Family Court of Australia regards economic losses incurred during the course of the marriage in the same way as it regards financial gains. What this means is that, losses and gains should be shared by both parties though it may not necessarily be equal between parties.

The Court however, acknowledged that there is an exception to that rule In the Marriage of Kowaliw (1981) FLC 91-092. This includes circumstances where: –

  • A party acts in such a way that is designed to deliberately reduce or minimise the effective value or worth of matrimonial assets; or
  • A party acts “recklessly, negligently or wantonly” with matrimonial assets which causes a reduction in their value.

Assets can be wasted in various ways such as through spending on alcohol, drugs, gambling, prostitution and extravagant and unnecessary spending. This does not include spending money on regular living expenses after separation or divorce. Parties will not be obliged to return the monies spent on regular living expenses to the asset pool for division with the other party.

Proving wastage of assets can be challenging. Let us take gambling as an example. One of the most common scenarios which is used by parties to argue wastage of assets before and during separation is gambling. However, if a party gambles a small amount of money relative to the matrimonial assets, it is less likely that the Court will consider that to be ‘reckless or negligent’. It has to be satisfied by the Court that the act was designed to deliberately reduce or minimise the matrimonial asset or that it was “recklessly, negligently or wantonly” causing a reduction in the matrimonial assets.

It is often a challenging task to prove wastage of matrimonial assets. Thus, consulting a family lawyer is worthwhile if your relationship is falling apart and your partner is dissipating assets that you have worked hard to accumulate.

If you would like to inquire about wastage of matrimonial assets or how to document and record as much of their spending as possible or find out more about your rights and options, Straits Lawyers are here to help. Simply send us an email at info@straitslawyers.com or give us a call on 8410 9069 to arrange an appointment for an online interview.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice and Straits Lawyers will not be legally responsible for any actions you take based on this article.