When you suspect that your spouse has hidden assets, or used assets for a non-community purpose, that’s waste. It’s a common term for abnormal or excessive spending. Examples of waste are:
- Spending on a non-marital or extra-marital relationship
- Excessive gifts to third parties
- Excessive gambling
Waste may also include:
- Destruction of community assets, like intentionally running down a business prior to filing for divorce.
- Asset concealment or fraudulent use or disposition of community funds (for example: creating a new company and transferring assets to it; or selling property to a friend for less than market value).
The Court considers waste when determining what an equitable division of community property is, and when determining spousal maintenance.
What are the keys to having your waste claim be successful?
Some types are obvious, while others take more digging. You’ll need to a) have all the evidence to prove there is waste, b) provide an explanation that tells why the transaction was wasteful and didn’t benefit the community property, and c) demonstrate that you didn’t consent to the waste activity.
How do you prove that waste occurred?
You can investigate on your own, relying on subpoenas in the divorce that provide backup documentation for you to scrutinize for proof. But if you have neither the skills nor the time to look at every credit card transaction from the last five years, then hire a forensic accountant to assist you. You’ll work with them to show which expenses weren’t for community purposes.
Do you need to hire a private investigator or an accountant?
In the case of proving concealment or fraudulent disposition, you may need to hire a private investigator or a forensic accountant to look for record discrepancies. A private investigator could be a good way to search for an asset or conduct a national bank account search. That way assets or accounts you didn’t know about will come to light.
Each waste claim case is unique. We can help you assess the strength of your claim. You can count on your attorney at The McCarthy Law Firm to help identify the best experts to help you investigate waste, destruction or concealment claims. We’ll be there to work with you on the best action to take once you have the results, as well. Call us today to discuss your concerns about waste.
This article is inspired and sourced from Kathleen McCarthy’s 2018 Brief Encounters article, as published in Tucson’s Desert Leaf magazine.