If you find out that your spouse has been hiding money from you in a secret bank account, spending large amounts of money that you were unaware of, or running up excessive debt without your knowledge, you may rightfully feel mistrust and anger toward them. While financial infidelity in itself is not a technical legal ground for divorce in New Jersey, it can certainly cause a lot of problems in a marriage and ultimately lead to or contribute to divorce.
There are different reasons for financial infidelity between spouses, but whatever the reason for your particular situation, if you are considering divorcing over it and/or other problems that may be present in your marriage, it is to your benefit to speak with a New Jersey divorce lawyer to learn about your rights in such a situation.
If your spouse has hidden assets from you during the marriage, you could be entitled to part of those monies in property division. If she or he has spent a great deal of money on another person while carrying on an extramarital affair, that may be taken into account by the judge in decisions around dividing assets and you may be entitled to a credit for your half of the marital funds spent on those extracurricular activities.
On the other hand, if your spouse has run up debt, you could be held partially responsible for paying it back even if you didn’t know about it so long as your spouse can show you still got the benefit of it, which could place a great burden on you financially just as you are trying to get a fresh start after divorce. In any case, a skilled attorney can help you get the best outcome based on the facts of your matter.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED FINANCIAL INFIDELITY?
In an ideal world, spouses would always be transparent and able to trust each other when it comes to money. But, unfortunately, this is not always the case. When one spouse lies to the other about money, they are committing financial infidelity that betrays the other spouse’s trust. Why do they do it? Reasons for financial infidelity vary and are sometimes associated with other issues in the marriage. Here are examples of reasons that people may lie about finances:
- A spouse may be having an affair and spending money on trips, hotel rooms, dinners, and gifts for their illicit love interest (otherwise known as paramours).
- A spouse may have a gambling addiction or a drug problem kept well hidden.
- The spouse may be a compulsive spender, such as on clothes or other items, who hides purchases from the other spouse.
- One spouse may secretly be squirreling money away because they intend to leave the marriage.
- A spouse may not trust the other one to handle money properly so hides it from them because they believe they are protecting their finances.
- One spouse may simply be a poor money manager who has run up debt and is afraid to tell the other person, so seeks to hide it.
Like sexual infidelity in marriage, financial infidelity can eradicate trust between spouses and put them on the road to divorce. But what if you suspect it is occurring but are not sure? By finding out now you can put yourself in a better situation during divorce decisions.
SIGNS OF POSSIBLE FINANCIAL INFIDELITY
There are some signs that may indicate you are being lied to about finances. They can include things such as the following:
- Unexplained withdrawals from your shared bank accounts;
- Unexplained charges on shared credit card statements;
- Finding statements for bank accounts, loans or credit cards that you did not know about
- Defensiveness or nervousness from your spouse when discussing money;
- A reluctance to share bank statements or credit card bills with you;
- Not wanting to show you pay stubs or finding out that your spouse received bonuses, stock options or other money they did not tell you about;
- Finding out your spouse had a side job you did not know about;
- Seeing expensive items showing up around the house that you did not talk about purchasing.
There could be other signs that are not listed here. In any case, if you suspect you are being lied to about money, the next step will be finding out the truth.
HOW DO YOU PROVE FINANCIAL INFIDELITY?
If you have evidence of financial infidelity, such as statements for savings accounts or credit cards you did not know about, for example, you might consider presenting them to your spouse in a non-confrontational way to see if you can have a rational discussion about what is going on and if not, maybe seek the assistance of a marriage counselor or even financial advisor to get your marital finances in order.
For couples headed to divorce, though, speaking about these issues may or may not be possible depending upon the relationship between spouses and the level of contention. If you cannot get to the bottom of the financial issues yourself, your attorney or a mediator may be able to help guide the discussion toward the truth.
In general in New Jersey, assets and debts that are accumulated during marriage are subject to equitable distribution in divorce. Equitable distribution in New Jersey is described in N.J.S.A. § 2A:34-23.1. When you are divorcing, you will both be required by law to disclose all your assets and debts.
There are spouses who commit financial infidelity during marriage who may try to hide assets during divorce, which can get them into serious legal trouble. If you believe that your spouse’s financial dishonesty during marriage could spill over into their hiding assets in your divorce, there are ways to prove whether this is happening. During the discovery process in divorce, banks, employers, business partners and others who may have information about your spouse’s financial affairs can be compelled to provide it. We can help you with the process of unearthing hidden assets.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED NEW JERSEY DIVORCE LAWYER FOR HELP
It is not unusual for money to cause problems in marriages, leading to divorce. If you are considering divorce because you found out your spouse has been untruthful about finances in your marriage and/or if you believe they are trying to hide assets in divorce, [MFR] Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers will answer your questions and work to protect your rights and interests. Call us today to arrange a case evaluation at (201) 880-9770.