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Should you worry about financial infidelity when divorcing?

It is common for people to stop worrying themselves about the behavior of their spouses once they make their minds up to seek a divorce. After all, you won't be accountable for their decisions for much longer. However, that sort of dismissive attitude could end up costing you some of your financial liquidity in the future.

Some people change their spending or saving habits when they know they are about to divorce. In some cases, people take it too far by racking up debt intentionally or transferring money into hidden accounts to try to hide it from the courts and their spouse.

You might feel surprised to learn that there are even people that plan for divorce throughout their whole marriage, hiding secret accounts and credit cards that their spouse never knew existed. The trickle of money into the accounts is small enough that the other spouse doesn't notice it missing from household funds. This issue is known as financial infidelity, and it is a common issue in modern marriages.

Is your spouse less than transparent with financial records?

Perhaps the biggest single clue of financial infidelity is a spouse who doesn't want to share information about their income, assets or spending habits. If you haven't seen tax returns or pay stubs from your spouse throughout your marriage, that could be a sign that they have actively hid some of their income or debt from you.

If you suspect that this may have been an issue in your marriage, you should attempt to get copies of your financial records as soon as possible once you decide on a divorce. Tax returns and current income statements, as well as bank and investment account records, are a good start. You should also discuss the situation with your attorney to determine if working with a forensic accountant or similar professional would benefit your case.

You can't get a fair share of assets if you don't know they exist

Asset division is often a sticking point between former couples in divorce, especially in marriages with high assets. Both spouses may want to retain the same assets, and disagreements about what is truly fair are common. The thing that many people don't seem to understand about hidden assets is that the courts won't attempt to find them for you.

It is your responsibility to provide the courts with information about the assets and debts from your marriage. That is why you need to look at financial records and your household assets with intense scrutiny to determine what you need to report to the courts. A family law attorney can help you with this process, as well as fighting for a fair share of the marital assets in a divorce.

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