Financial Infidelity and How to Overcome It

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By Debra Schoenberg

Infidelity is one of the leading causes of divorce. There are many types of cheating, including emotional and physical, but a different type of infidelity is on the rise and can be more painful than an affair- financial betrayal.

A recent New York Times article highlighted the rise of financial infidelity amongst couples. Many marriages are rooted in financial struggles, so it is not unusual that one or both spouses are deep in debt and besieged by creditors. But it does become an issue when you begin to lie or hide financial information from your spouse. Financial infidelity occurs when a spouse intentionally hides and lies about financial information. Some examples include having a secret bank account or excessive credit cards, taking out loans, lavish spending, hidden purchases, and hiding debt. A survey by TD Bank found that 43% of people hide precisely how much credit card debt they have and, in most cases, it’s a substantial amount.

CNBC Money recently reported that 3 in 10 couples experienced financial infidelity in the past year. One given motive is that many married couples lack the financial literacy necessary to learn how to create a financial budget, set goals, and learn how to manage their debt. Those who have engaged in financial infidelity told a survey that they did so because of embarrassment, to avoid an argument and confrontation, and to feel more financially in control. For spouses left in the dark, feelings of betrayal and mistrust can lead to divorce in some cases.

Difficulty talking about personal finances within the marriage can also lead to financial infidelity. Other reasons may be due to the different lifestyle one spouse may have or be accustomed to having. One partner may not have an issue going on expensive vacations and buying designer clothes, while the other wishes to save instead. When the situation becomes stressful, some opt to avoid talking about their finances altogether. When the other spouse uncovers the truth of the financial crisis, there’s often a feeling of betrayal.

According to, some warning signs you can watch for if you suspect that you are a victim of financial infidelity include:

  • Lack of communication about one’s finances
  • Indulging in addictive behaviors
  • Hiding credit card statements
  • Hiding purchases
  • Frequent cash withdrawals
  • Taking out loans without your knowledge
  • Withholds password information/access to financial accounts

Financial infidelity is a significant breach of trust. Couples may want to seek the help of a financial advisor who can get them back on track by implementing a budget according to their finances. According to The Balance, the next step in overcoming financial infidelity is to create a debt payoff plan. In addition, both spouses should have equal access to all bank accounts and passwords to ensure the debt is being addressed and the account stays in good standing. Lastly, it is essential to learn how to be honest and open with your spouse about your finances and no longer feel the need to keep financial secrets. Consider having open communication regarding your financial accounts so that you and your spouse know what’s going on and there is no deceit. If your spouse is hesitant to discuss any financial matters with you, it may be something to address as soon as possible.

At Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C. in San Francisco, our divorce lawyers offer the skill and knowledge to handle even the most complex and contentious divorces to secure fair resolutions. If you’re seeking legal advice from an experienced divorce attorney, contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

by Debra Schoenberg

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