Many Americans keep financial secrets from their spouses. While some of these secrets are benign, such as a secret birthday gift, other secrets can be hazardous to a marriage. A couple’s financial situation is one of the most common sources of marital conflict, and financial infidelity, which is growing in popularity, often contributes the cause of divorce.
What counts as financial infidelity?
Financial infidelity involves financial actions that are kept secret or are lied about, particularly actions that affect shared money. Secretly spending, investing or gambling a large amount of shared money are some examples of financial infidelity. However, there are several other ways someone could commit financial infidelity.
Financial infidelity also includes:
- Hiding purchases, receipts or credit card statements
- Opening a secret bank account or credit card
- Lying about income
- Hiding debt
- Hiding stashes of money
What causes financial infidelity?
Over 40% of Americans commit financial infidelity, and there are a variety of reasons a spouse may do so. There may be misunderstandings or lack of communication about money that took root in a relationship even before marriage. A spouse may be embarrassed about the debt he or she has accrued. Spouses may have opposing views of money, such as one likes to take risks, while the other prefers to conserve financial resources. A spouse could also have an addiction to gambling or shopping.
How will I know if my spouse is keeping financial secrets?
It is often best if both spouses actively participate in financial matters from the start of their relationship. However, if you are currently not involved in managing your shared money, getting involved can be a good way to become more familiar with your family’s financial situation.
Some signs of financial infidelity to look for include:
- Money missing from bank accounts without a reason
- Regular, unexplained cash withdrawals
- Unexplained windfalls of cash
- Surprising charges on credit or debit cards
- Finding expensive purchases hidden around the house
How might my spouse’s financial infidelity impact our divorce?
Although financial infidelity may not be a recognized ground for divorce, it can contribute to the personal reasons people have for seeking divorce. When financial infidelity is already present in a relationship, it is also possible that financial infidelity can affect the outcome of a divorce.
Financial secrets can affect what marital assets are left to divide at the time of divorce. However, if your spouse kept financial secrets during your marriage, he or she is likely to continue during your divorce. Fortunately, in some circumstances an Ohio court may consider this when dividing the assets that are left.
Although marital assets are often split evenly in divorce, a court may choose to award you a bigger share under certain circumstances. These circumstances include, if your spouse’s financial infidelity involves losing money to gambling, spending money on drugs, spending money on a new love interest or attempting to hide assets during divorce.
Lies and secrets are not good for any marriage. However, it can be especially difficult for a marriage to overcome lies and secrets about shared money. If a marriage is to recover, the spouse who committed financial infidelity may have to work hard to regain trust, and both spouses will have to work hard to repair the financial damage.