It’s much more common than you might think. One spouse hides a stash of money from the other – or incurs a debt the other spouse never agreed to. It’s called “financial infidelity.” The act of financial deception can not only undermine trust but also have long-term consequences for both spouses.
According to a recent Harris poll, 85% of respondents said that financial deception had harmed their own relationships, and 42% admitted deceiving their own spouse financially. Fully 13% said they had outright lied to their spouse about their earnings or debts.
Over 70% of divorced couples say money was their No. 1 reason for divorcing.
What are some red flags of financial infidelity?
Ideally, you monitor all your statements and accounts regularly, so you could spot if something were wrong. However, many people don’t closely monitor their spouse’s spending habits. How can you spot financial infidelity?
According to Psychology Today, here are some red flags to watch for:
- Making excuses for irrational behavior around money
- Suddenly being uncharacteristically stingy or generous
- Evidence of secret spending or shopping
- Secret withdrawals from savings
- Hiding receipts or lying about the price paid
- Hiding a raise or bonus
- Any forged, hidden or falsified documents
- Concealing the details of any financial transaction
- Transferring assets or lending money to a trust, relatives or the kids
- Only using cash, along with repeated bank withdrawals
- Changing where bills are mailed so you don’t see them
- Changing the password to your joint accounts so you can’t get in
If you have the sense your spouse is lying to you about something, it could be financial infidelity.
How can I know for sure?
It can be difficult to prove without a forensic accountant. However, if you have a good understanding of your overall financial situation, you can begin by monitoring your accounts. Consider getting a year’s worth of monthly statements from each account and going over them with a fine-toothed comb. Get a copy of your own and your spouse’s credit reports from each of the three major credit agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax).
It can be more complicated to discover financial infidelity when your spouse has set up individual accounts you don’t know about and has been paying their bills.
If you are considering divorce and suspect financial infidelity, a family law attorney can investigate the situation and bring in any necessary experts. Be sure to hire someone who is compassionate and willing to go the extra mile for you.