Sharing your finances with your spouse can benefit you both, or it can put one of you at risk because of the other person’s bad decisions. Although people often reference financial stress as a primary reason for filing for divorce, many don’t consider the family implications of their financial or spending decisions before they make them.
Financial infidelity is a term that applies to one spouse hiding important financial information from the other. How can financial infidelity affect a couple’s marriage and future divorce?
Financial infidelity causes divorce
With more households having to wage-earning spouses, it is increasingly common for spouses to try to maintain some degree of financial independence during marriage. While this is a noble goal, being honest with your spouse about your intentions is a much better choice than lying or hiding property.
If one spouse lies about their level of debt, spending habits, income or what property they own, that can do real damage to the marital relationship. It could also mean that their spouse entered the relationship with inaccurate expectations. Cases of financial infidelity can involve different scenarios, all of which might impact the trust between spouses and lead to a divorce or influence the outcome of a divorce already in progress.
Hidden bank accounts
When it comes to a divorce, few financial secrets have more serious implications than hidden assets. Some people hide income or property from their spouse for the entirety of their marriage. Others create a secret account when they decide they will soon file for divorce.
A hidden bank account might represent thousands of dollars in financial value. If one spouse doesn’t know about those diverted assets or hidden income, they can’t ask for their fair share.
Secret credit cards
The opposite of hidden assets would be hidden debt. When one spouse likes to shop a little too much, expects a higher standard of living than the household can support, develops a chemical dependence or gambles compulsively, big debts can follow. If there isn’t honest communication, a spouse without awareness of the issue could wind up financially impacted by their partner’s growing debt or credit card balances.
If discovering financial infidelity has led to your filing for divorce, or if you suspect that your spouse may have hidden assets or secret debts, a careful review of your finances can help you push for a better outcome.