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Financial Infidelity in Marriage

 Posted on July 02, 2014 in Family Law

financial infidelity, Illinois family law attorney, Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices, reasons for divorce, money and marriage, marriage secrets, spending money, money secrets, secret credit card accountsMoney and Marriage

Researchers who study marriage dynamics and the causes of divorce have focused most of their efforts on studying the effects that physical or emotional cheating have on a marriage. However, until recently, very little research had been done to study the effects that “financial infidelity” had on relationships. Financial infidelity occurs when one partner hides what he or she does with his or her money from the other partner. It could take the form of spending money behind the partner’s back, maintaining separate credit cards or secret accounts, stashing away money, or borrowing from others without the partner’s knowledge.

Research Studies

According to a National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) study conducted by Harris Poll in January 2014, one-third admitted to financial infidelity. Most notably, however, was that 76 percent of those adults said the infidelity had an effect on the relationship.

The national survey polled 2,035 respondents who were at least 18 years old. The poll found that three in 10 have kept secret things such as cash, bank accounts, statements, or bills from their partner. Sixteen percent said they have lied about the amount of debt they have, and 14 percent admitted not telling the truth about how much money they earn.

The reasons for lying about finances varied greatly. Thirty-five percent of respondents said that they wanted some of their finances to remain private; 16 percent were too embarrassed to tell their significant other about their financial problems; and 15 percent said finances had never been discussed in their household.

For the partners who were in the dark about the finances, 47 percent said the issue led to an argument, 33 percent said it resulted in less trust in their relationship, and an astounding 13 percent said the financial infidelity actually led to their divorce.

Identifying the Issue

Red Flags

Signs of financial infidelity may be similar to those of physical or emotional infidelity. For example, a partner may find a receipt for a purchase made by the other partner in which he or she were unaware. A partner may also notice purchases on monthly statements that he or she are unable to account. There also may be behavior changes on the part of the deceiving partner. A partner may act differently when the issue of money arises, or he or she may get defensive or avoid the topic completely.

Addressing the Issue

It is important to address the issue calmly and in an appropriate manner. Bringing the topic up to your partner will most likely be an uncomfortable conversation, and it may also lead to an argument if you approach your partner in an accusing or blaming way. Make sure you know ahead of time what you want to get out of the conversation and to approach it when you and your partner are alone and at an appropriate time.


In some cases, financial infidelity may actually be unforgivable, and may lead you to want to seek a divorce. For more information about family law issues and for help filing a divorce, please contact the experienced family law attorneys at Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices.

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