According to a CNBC report, more than 7 million Americans hide money from their spouse. Such activity is not, to put it simply, a good sign. Couples who are dishonest about finances are unusually prone to divorce. As one commentator put it, “[such] deceptions create a fissure within the relationship that’s hard to repair.”
It’s no secret that money is a common stress point in relationships. A recent survey of more than 200 Certified Divorce Financial Analysts found that finances are the third leading cause of divorce (behind infidelity and basic incompatibility). Yet failing to discuss monetary matters openly-to say nothing of withholding funds from one’s partner-is, in almost all cases, a sure sign of trouble.
What are the consequences?
The younger the spouse, the more likely he or she is to hide assets. A report in CNN Money details that 31 percent of Millennials admit to having a secret credit card, savings account or checking account, as compared to 24 percent of Gen Xers and 17 percent of Baby Boomers. Many individuals also maintain offshore accounts, own real estate in another individual’s name, hold investments in Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies, or find other ways of concealing their holdings.
Such activity is detrimental to a marriage, but can be especially harmful during divorce. Namely, if a spouse knowingly violates asset disclosure laws in divorce proceedings, he or she may be ordered to pay the other spouse’s legal fees, and face additional fines. In certain circumstances, one may even be charged with perjury and held in contempt of the court.
Talking about money can be uncomfortable. Yet avoiding such discussions (as more than 10 percent of couples do) can lead to ruin. “Money is fluid and your conversations about it should be as well,” notes the CNN Money article. “It shouldn’t be a once a year thing, [but] part of your ongoing discussions…However you do it. You need to be honest.”
Those who believe financial deception can work to their advantage find-and find often-that the opposite is more likely to be true.