Can I Divorce Over My Husband Lending Money to Friends?

By Rob Jennings J.D.

Marriage is an emotional and personal union, but it constitutes an economic union as well. The things married people do with their money can affect their spouses in serious--and not always positive--ways. Irresponsible lending practices can ruin a couple just as surely as it can ruin a bank. You can divorce your husband for any reason, and depending on the circumstances, if your husband has been lending money to friends without your approval, his actions could even work against him.

No-Fault Divorce

All states recognize no-fault divorce, meaning that you don't have to prove any bad behavior on your husband's part -- nor do you need a particular "reason" -- in order to divorce him. In North Carolina, for example, you need only one year's physical separation with no intention of resuming the marital relationship to get a divorce. But if you charge your husband with marital misconduct in your petition or complaint, you're not pursuing a no-fault divorce. Fault-based divorce actions can become much more expensive and complex.

Relevance of Fault

Depending upon the unique circumstances of your case, you might choose to pursue a divorce based upon fault grounds related to your husband's lending. In some situations, his behavior could affect the outcome of a spousal support or property division trial. This type of misconduct could be viewed as dissipating marital assets or inflicting emotional distress. A judge might also look at it as evidence of disrespect, especially if you can cite other instances where he completely ignores your wishes and welfare.

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Dissipation of Marital Assets

Lending money--and failing to collect it--to the detriment of family finances is a form of marital misconduct that can affect the outcome of your property division trial. In many states, marital misconduct is irrelevant to property division--unless that misconduct is economic. If your husband has been dissipating marital assets, the court could compensate you, as the innocent spouse, through property division or other remedies built into your state's law. Depending upon the nature of your husband's "loans," he might be seen not only as wasting marital property, but actively hiding it from you by disguising it in the form of loans that were made but never paid back.

Remedies

If your spouse has dissipated the marital estate through his irresponsible lending practices, the court can award you more marital property and less marital debt to help compensate you for the losses you have suffered. The court could also classify your husband's "loans" as marital debt and distribute them to him at full face value. You would then be entitled to equal value in the form of other assets or receive reduced responsibility for marital debt.

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References

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