Infidelity typically involves someone violating the parameters of a romantic relationship by becoming intimate with someone else. However, the word infidelity has broader connotations than that. The term implies behavior that undermines the trust between partners and that possibly affects the rights or safety of one of the individuals in a relationship.
Sexual and romantic infidelity are serious concerns that do real harm to modern marriages. However, financial infidelity is also quite common and may both lead to divorce and have a major impact on the outcome of the divorce process itself.
What is financial infidelity?
At its most basic, financial infidelity involves lying or withholding information about one’s financial circumstances. Financial infidelity comes in numerous forms. Any actions that leave someone unaware of debts or assets or with inaccurate information about household spending might constitute financial infidelity.
Not telling someone about $20,000 worth of credit card debt until after marriage might be an example of financial infidelity. Taking money out of a joint account after every paycheck and maintaining a hidden savings account is also potentially financial infidelity.
Those who misappropriate marital resources, hide that or obfuscate their true financial circumstances may have engaged in financial infidelity. When one spouse discovers lies about finances, they may start to wonder what else may have been a lie. In some cases, financial infidelity dovetails with romantic infidelity, with one spouse hiding a secret credit card so that they can conduct an affair without the other spouse discovering the behavior.
How can financial infidelity affect a divorce?
There are a couple of ways in which financial infidelity could affect divorce proceedings. If someone lied about their financial circumstances before negotiating a marital agreement, that misrepresentation could affect the validity of the contract between spouses.
Someone hiding resources might lead to the courts awarding more property to their spouse in the divorce as a punishment. When people misuse marital resources or rack up debt, the courts might hold them accountable for that behavior when dividing other property.
Those who intend to divorce a spouse who has lied about finances often require professional legal support, especially if they want to secure the best possible outcome. Learning more about the state’s property division laws can benefit those who are planning to divorce because of financial infidelity.