Financial infidelity, like other types of infidelity, can stress a marriage to the point of divorce. Although financial secrets can be hard on a marriage, over 40% of adults admit to keeping them, which could be contributing to high divorce rates in the United States.
However, divorce is not the only possible consequence of financial infidelity. If you think your spouse could be keeping financial secrets, it can be helpful to understand the potential consequences for these actions because they will likely impact you as well as your spouse.
What counts as financial infidelity?
Financial infidelity involves lying or omitting the truth about money, spending or debt. This can easily occur when only one spouse handles all of a family’s financial matters because spouses are already not communicating about money. Financial infidelity is also common in situations involving addictions, such as substance abuse, gambling addictions or shopping addictions.
Some examples of financial infidelity include:
- Opening a secret credit card
- Hiding purchases
- Hiding cash
- Taking out a secret loan
How might my spouse’s actions impact me?
One of the most likely consequences of your spouse’s financial secrets is the lack of trust that the secrets could cause between you. If you and your spouse cannot trust each other, it may be difficult to work together to create a plan to repair the financial damage. It may even be difficult to remain married.
Another problem with your spouse’s financial lies is that your spouse’s financial secrets could come back to bite both of you. This is because the assets and debts that you or your spouse acquire during your marriage are typically considered marital property. This means that you and your spouse are both responsible for those assets and debts. If you do get divorced, you may be required to pay back some of your spouse’s debts or there may end up being fewer assets to divide.
However, courts divide assets based on what is fair, not necessarily what is equal. This means that in some situations a court may award you a more favorable portion of the marital assets. This may be the case if your spouse continues to dissipate or hide marital assets during your divorce.
The consequences of your spouse’s financial secrets will depend on the specific circumstances. However, if your spouse’s financial infidelity pushed your relationship to to its limit, you may benefit from making it a priority to seek the best possible financial outcomes for your divorce.