When a spouse grossly misuses property of the marriage, to include cash or money earned by either of the spouses, this is termed “waste of the marital estate.”
Examples of waste of the marital estate include, but are not limited to money spent on extramarital relationships or gambling. Marital assets expended on habits or hobbies by one spouse that may be distasteful to the other spouse does not necessarily constitute waste of the marital estate.
The big exception to the rule with regards to waste of the marital estate is when the other spouse has held silent and not done anything to stop the spouse wasting the maritial estate. For example, if one spouse is always buying lots of clothes, tools, toys, etc., and the other spouse simply disapproves but does nothing legal to stop it, then it is very likely that a court will not find waste of the marital estate, just poor judgment on the part of the waster and lack of will in the other spouse.
Another difficulty with receiving relief when there has been waste of the marital estate is that, though a court may find there has been waste, oft times the waster has put him or herself into such an untenable financial position that there will never be a way for injured spouse to recover the waste.
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