To most people in a committed relationship, infidelity by one partner can be a deal breaker. If they are married, a couple must decide to try and overcome the actions of an unfaithful spouse or face the possibility of divorce. When cheating is physical or sexual, emotions between the partners can range from sadness and hurt to jealousy and anger. Many married individuals who would never cheat, however, do keep secrets from their spouse and deceive their partner financially. While it may not seem to be as serious as cheating, a recent survey found that more than half of all adults consider financial honesty as important as monogamy.
Financial infidelity can occur when, despite a couple sharing the household finances, one partner decides to hide some of their own financial decisions or history. The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) funded a Harris Poll in early 2014 which estimated one in three adults have hidden a purchase, account, statement, or income from their partner. Additionally, more than ten percent have ‘committed more severe deceptions,’ including lying to their partner about amount or nature of their income or debt. ‘The survey also found that when it occurs, financial infidelity often has an impact on the relationship.
Both recovering from financial infidelity and preventing it in the first place require a similar approach. First, the couple must be able to be honest with each other regarding debts and income and may choose to enlist the help of a financial planner. It is also important for the partners to have regular financial discussions, and to each have some responsibility for the household bills. Each spouse should also have access to joint accounts so that hiding transactions becomes much more difficult. Finally, NEFE recommends a certain amount of ‘no questions asked’ spending money be agreed upon, so that both partners may still have a degree of freedom without the need for deception.
If financial infidelity has already presented a problem, rebuilding trust will certainly be a process. ‘It will take sustained transparency in all communication, and it takes a commitment from both to stick to the goals that you’ve set together,’ says Patricia Seaman, senior directed with NEFE. A renewed sense of honesty and cooperation can help a couple overcome monetary indiscretions and approach the future stronger and more unified.
When left unchecked, however, financial infidelity can continue to worsen and drive a couple apart. If it continues to happen in the context of a divorcing couple, it may even result in a spouse hiding income or property. Hiding assets during the divorce process is illegal and a potentially very serious problem.
If you suspect your spouse may be committing financial infidelity or hiding assets and are wondering what your next step should be, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. We can answer your questions regarding the law and help you understand your options. You want what is best for your family and so do we. Our goal is to help you get there.