Cheating on a spouse by not disclosing money secrets is on the rise.
A 2016 Harris poll for the National Endowment for Financial Education revealed that 42% of Americans admit to deceiving their spouses financially, up from 33% two years ago.
Stonewalling conversations about money might be a sign of financial infidelity.
Financial infidelity often starts small. Little white lies, like secretly buying a pair of shoes, often snowball into full-blown deception through habit. This can be prevented by offering completely open and judgment-free financial discussions from day one. It’s better to find out differing money views and possible disagreements at the start of a relationship and reach an agreement, rather than years down the line in marriage.
As the president of Corri Fetman & Associates, Ltd., a boutique family law firm, Corri Fetman has seen her share of divorce cases that involve financial infidelity, or not disclosing money habits, information and assets that should normally be shared with a spouse. She recalls one case in which the husband set up a corporation to look like part of his regular business portfolio—except that it was expressly used to purchase a home and other items for his mistress. Fetman unearthed the deceit by doing a full forensic examination of all his business documents. “The judge ordered that he repay the marital estate a portion of the millions of dollars that he dissipated for the mistress expenditures,” Fetman said. “Had I not looked at the underlying documents closely, these expenditures would have appeared as legitimate business expenses on the ledger.”