Americans find it difficult to talk about money, more than even death, politics or religion. According to one study, more than seven million Americans hide a bank account or credit card from their partners. About 20 percent of people have spent over $500 in secret. This is often called financial infidelity, and it can be detrimental to a relationship or marriage.
In a study out of Kansas University, researchers found that fighting about money is one of the top predictors of divorce. Net worth, income and debt did not matter. What was important was whether couples were on the same page about money matters. Sadly, when married people argue over money and divorce is imminent, one person might hide assets or money from the other.
If you are concerned about your spouse hiding money, you should watch for these signs:
- Mail from new accounts or financial institutions, especially in the other person’s name only
- Credit card statements with overpayments
- Wire transfers or electronic payments to accounts you do not know
- Large withdrawals that were not discussed
- Large gifts given to friends or family members
- Making trips to countries known for secret accounts
Just one sign of hiding money may not be suspicious, but when you add things up you may realize that a divorce is near. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means that property is not necessarily divided equally in a divorce, making hidden assets all the more important. However, you should not open mail not addressed to you or try to access accounts that are password protected. These actions could backfire against you. Instead, it might be to your advantage to talk to a divorce lawyer about your options.
Ideally, money should be treated fairly in the household, but life does not always work that way. You should protect yourself in case the worse happens. Staying aware of your financial situation and seeking resources on your side can help make sure you have the best possible outcome to restart your life.