Albany Family Law Blog

Can your spouse give away your property before your divorce?

Posted by Joanne P. Monagan, Esq. | Dec 23, 2022 | 0 Comments

Have you heard of the cheating spouse special? Social media platforms that offer marketplace transactions and classified websites sometimes see jilted spouses offering personal property at a massive discount or for free. There have been cases where people sell vehicles or expensive electronic devices for only a few dollars as a way to spite their spouse when they discover an extramarital affair.

Some people will go a step further and just start giving things away or throwing them in the trash. They might smash your electronics or start your closing on fire on the lawn. If your spouse becomes incredibly angry at you, can they destroy or give away your personal property before you separate and divorce?

Destroying your property is a form of dissipation

Technically, a good portion of your belongings will be marital property. Both you and your spouse share an ownership interest in those assets, even if only one of you ever uses that property. Anything that is part of your marital estate is something both of you should be able to fully share in when dividing your property in the divorce.

If your spouse does something that intentionally deprives you of the value of marital property, the courts may classify that behavior as the dissipation of marital assets. Dissipation or wasteful spending is a common way for one spouse to try to create financial hardship for the other.

Provided that you have documentation, you can hold someone accountable for giving away your assets or selling them for less than fair market value. Shopping sprees and maxed-out credit cards could also be forms of dissipation that affect the property division process in your divorce. Spending on an affair could also constitute dissipation.

Evidence is necessary for financial misconduct claims

From taking screenshots of the social media post advertising your computer for $5 to producing records of the property you purchased during your marriage that has since disappeared, it will be important for you to demonstrate to the courts how your spouse has wasted or destroyed marital property if you want to hold them accountable in your divorce proceedings.

Answering your questions about property division matters can help you take the right steps while preparing for divorce in New York.

About the Author

Joanne P. Monagan, Esq.

Managing Attorney


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