A Reliable Partner. An Experienced Adviser.

Photo of Ira C. Yellin

Dissipating assets during a divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2020 | Firm News

A common area of disagreement during a divorce is the division of assets. For some couples, there is a desire to prevent the other person from getting certain assets or to try to do anything to reduce the amount of assets the other person gets. If you have a rough divorce where you feel that your spouse should not get certain assets, you may think about selling them or, if it is money, spending them.

According to Forbes, selling or using up assets so that the other person cannot have them in a divorce is dissipating assets, and it could get you into trouble. Dissipating assets is similar to hiding them. Doing anything to try to avoid giving assets to your spouse in a divorce is not something that the court will look nicely upon.


According to Mass.gov, when you file for a divorce, the court issues an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order. The ATRO does not work like a restraining order you may get for physical protection. This order makes it so that neither you nor your spouse may get rid of any assets during divorce proceedings.

The only exceptions are if assets are part of your normal business and something that you would ordinarily sell to customers or if you need to use assets for living expenses or paying your attorney. You also can agree in writing to sell assets, but you both must agree to the sale. You also cannot make changes to life insurance or retirement account beneficiaries.

The ATRO even goes a step further in preventing you from accumulating debt, which is another issue some divorcing couples have. Until your divorce is final, any debt that you accumulate could affect your spouse. The court will divide debt as it does property.

Because an ATRO is in place, if you or your spouse tries to dissipate assets, you could face serious legal repercussions. It is a protection that the state puts in place to stop further issues with property division and protect both of you.