People often tell what they consider to be small white lies to keep things moving smoothly in their home or their relationship. For example, not admitting how much money you spend on coffee every week may seem like a harmless issue if it helps you avoid an argument with your spouse. However, that attitude of avoiding conflict by withholding financial information isn’t necessarily the best approach.
Instead, it can undermine the trust on which your relationship developed and lead to serious arguments or even divorce in your future. Your financial future is intertwined with the financial decisions that you and your spouse make. Both the income and the debts you acquired during marriage will impact your life for years to come.
Having a realistic idea of the expenses that your household incurs, as well as the financial assets you own, is very important for any household. When one spouse lies about money, it can put both spouses in a precarious position.
Hiding debt or money is a form of financial infidelity
If you have never heard the term financial infidelity before, you can probably infer its meaning. Financial infidelity occurs when one person in a relationship intentionally withholds information or lies to the other about financial matters.
Financial infidelity can take a number of different forms. It could involve one spouse who is a compulsive shopper hiding the items they purchase from their partner. It could also involve a spouse lying about how much money they make in order to fund a secret account. Other times, financial infidelity looks like one spouse significantly misrepresenting their debts and assets prior to the marriage itself.
Regardless of what form financial infidelity takes, it has a chilling effect on many marriages. Not only does it result in arguments related to financial issues, but it can cause damage to the trust between spouses that proves irreparable. For many couples, serious financial infidelity may be a shortcut to divorce court.
You need a different approach to divorce after financial infidelity
If your spouse has already shown a willingness to hide assets from you or keep you from understanding the financial circumstances of your household, you need to take a very measured approach to divorce. You will need to take steps to protect your own assets and interests while also uncovering the questionable actions of your spouse.
The single most important change will be securing accurate financial records. You will want copies of all income and tax paperwork, and as much documentation of spending habits as possible. Those critical records can help you or a financial professional understand the status of your household.
From putting a price tag on compulsive spending habits to finding and accurately valuing hidden assets and accounts, these extra steps can have a profound impact on the outcome of your divorce.