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Financial secrets can lead to divorce and impact its outcomes

Any type of lie or secret can be poison to a trusting relationship. However, lying about money can be one of the most dangerous types of deception for a marriage. Money problems are the second most common cause for divorce, just behind cheating on a spouse.

Unfortunately, financial infidelity is a common problem. According to a recent Forbes article, 13% of people have a secret checking account and 12% of people have a secret savings account. It also claims that 12% of people have a secret credit card, 9% of people have a secret retirement account and 7% of people have a secret life insurance policy.

Any financial lie, omission, misrepresentation or deception can count as financial infidelity, and sometimes a spouse’s indiscretions go beyond secret pockets of money. A spouse who has addictions to gambling or illegal substances may spend large amounts of money to feed those addictions. Retail therapy or risky investments can also create significant debts. Any of these behaviors counts as financial infidelity if a spouse isn't honest about it.

How might financial secrets affect divorce outcomes?

Financial secrets often wreak havoc on the couple’s financial health, but they can also break trust and contribute to the cause of divorce. Financial secrets can even impact divorce outcomes in numerous ways.

For example, excessive debt racked up by one spouse may leave fewer assets to be divided in divorce. This debt can also harm the other spouse’s credit score, which can make it more difficult for that spouse to stabilize his or her finances post-divorce. The debts themselves may even end up divided in the divorce, even though only one spouse accrued those debts.

However, the issue of trust remains. If someone lied during marriage, what are the chances he or she will lie during divorce? Hiding assets is illegal, but a spouse accustomed to lying about money may still try to do this to prevent certain assets from being divided fairly.

Courts offer some protection for innocent spouses

Financial secrets during marriage can lead to problems during divorce, but courts offer some protection, too. Although Ohio courts often divide marital assets equally, they will divide assets unequally in circumstances involving financial misconduct. If a situation qualifies, the innocent spouse could receive half of the misused amount.

A situation may count as financial misconduct if a spouse:

  • Lost a significant amount of money to gambling
  • Used marital assets to purchase illegal substances
  • Spent marital funds on entertainment or gifts for a lover
  • Tried to hide an asset in the divorce court proceeding

If you believe your spouse is keeping financial secrets, it may be prudent to evaluate all your options. There may be ways to minimize the damage those secrets have on your personal financial situation.

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