The most challenging and time consuming portion of any divorce proceeding, is sorting through the finances. Dissipation and contribution are often an overlooked component when analyzing marital finances because both concepts deal with money that has already been spent. The key difference between the two (2) concepts lies in how the money was spent.
When one spouse uses marital resources for non-marital purposes, it is likely they have “dissipated” the marital estate. If a dissipation has occurred, then the spouse who has caused the dissipation must reimburse the marital estate for this improper expenditure. Examples of typical dissipation are:
Examples of things unlikely to be considered dissipation:
A contribution, on the other hand, occurs when one spouse uses non-marital funds to contribute to a marital expense. When a contribution has occurred then the contributing party is entitled to reimbursement from the marital estate. Examples of typical contributions are:
The key fact to differentiate dissipation from contribution is: when a dissipation has occurred the dissipating spouse owes the marital estate money; when a contribution has occurred the marital estate owes the contributing spouse money. If you suspect a dissipation has occurred, or you feel you are entitled to reimbursement from a contribution you made to the marital estate, you should contact an attorney for advice.