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What is financial infidelity during a marriage?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2023 | Family Law |

Marital infidelity has always been a leading cause of divorce. People who have emotional or sexual affairs with another person damage the bond with their spouse and destroy the crucial trust and honesty on which people build relationships. Quite a few people file for divorce after discovering that their spouse has had – or is still engaged in – another relationship.

However, romantic infidelity is not the only kind of infidelity that affects modern marriages. Many people also move to change their marital status when they experience financial infidelity. Just like emotional and sexual infidelity, financial infidelity damages the trust that people have in one another.

What exactly is financial infidelity?

Spouses share a household and combine their financial resources, which means that they should be open and honest with each other about their assets and obligations. Financial infidelity involves the exact opposite. When one spouse intentionally lies to the other about their circumstances, they have committed financial infidelity.

Common acts of financial infidelity include:

  • hiding income
  • hiding bank accounts
  • hiding debt
  • lying about shopping or gambling habits

Spouses who discover a hidden bank account with thousands of dollars or a credit card maxed out that could potentially be their responsibility in a divorce may feel betrayed and angry. Frequently, claims of financial infidelity eventually lead to someone filing for divorce.

Does financial infidelity affect divorce proceedings?

In certain scenarios, financial misrepresentation could influence how the courts divide marital property and debts. For example, if one spouse hid credit card debts, frivolous shopping habits or a gambling problem, a judge might agree to exclude the debts that they owe and did not share with their spouse from the marital estate.

Other times, if someone continues to try to hide assets during the divorce process and intentionally does not disclose assets to the courts, judges may alter the property division decree to reflect that misconduct and violation of court rule. For the most part, however, financial misconduct will only damage the relationship and will not have a major bearing on the divorce process.

Seeking legal guidance to more effectively hold someone accountable for their financial misrepresentations can help to protect a spouse from an unfair outcome during the property division process.