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“Negative Monetary Contributions” In Equitable Distribution

“Negative Monetary Contributions” in Equitable Distribution

By David L. Duff of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Tuesday, December 26, 2017.

In today’s divorces, it is an all-too-frequent scenario where one spouse brings in the money, only to see it recklessly spent just as fast by the other spouse. This phenomenon often takes the form of excessive unnecessary travel; gambling; “loans” to friends or family members; designer clothing instead of “off-the-rack;” expensive lunches/dinners; excessive alcohol consumption; and a myriad of other examples. Invariably, such financial recklessness leads to marital discord, which, in turn, often leads to divorce.

The question then becomes: How, if at all, can the hardworking, frugal, “innocent” spouse recoup any of the tens of thousands of marital dollars that were wasted by the irresponsible spouse? Virginia’s Equitable Distribution statute (Code § 20-107.3) does provide a method for compensating the “innocent” spouse through the concept of “Negative Monetary Contributions.”

At the final divorce trial, the goal of the presiding judge is to determine how to divide the “marital pie” in such a way as to be “fair” under all the circumstances of the marriage. The Equitable Distribution statute lists thirteen (13) factors that the judge is to consider when deciding what constitutes fairness. The very first factor is:

The monetary and nonmonetary contributions made by each party to the acquisition and maintenance of marital property.

Concededly, the term “monetary contributions” most often means positive financial efforts on the part of each spouse. However, case law has held that the term “monetary contributions” is not limited to positive conduct, but also includes any negative conduct by one spouse that unreasonably depletes the funds, that would otherwise have been available to assist the family.

By producing proof of one spouse’s irresponsible and inappropriate abuse of marital monies, the “innocent” spouse can build a strong case for receiving a bigger portion of the “marital pie” when the time comes for a judge to slice it.

If you are involved in a situation where your spouse is, or has been, recklessly wasting the marital funds, contact one of the attorneys at Duff Kronfeld & Marquardt P.C. at (703) 591-7475 for a complimentary, 30-minute telephone consultation to discuss your rights to compensation.

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