It is an unfortunate fact of life that many marriages break up as a result of an extramarital affair or because one of the parties has been financially irresponsible. Such conduct can have far reaching effects on the financial settlement of a divorce action. Dissipation is a legal term and applies most often to cases where marital funds have been wrongfully expended - e.g., marital money was used to purchase expensive gifts or trips for a spouse's girlfriend or boyfriend or one spouse expended large amounts of money on something unrelated to the marriage without the knowledge or consent of the other spouse.
In such cases, the court can order the spouse who wrongfully spent the money to repay the marital estate. However, the expenditures must have occurred after the marriage was irretrievably broken down and without the acquiescence of the other party.