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What You Need to Do When You Are Divorcing a Spouse Who Has Committed Financial Infidelity

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What You Need to Do When You Are Divorcing a Spouse Who Has Committed Financial Infidelity

Financial infidelity is a topic that’s been getting more attention.
 
Never heard the term before?
 
It describes the behavior spouses engage in when they hide assets, debts, or spending habits from their partner. Sooner or later these habits create havoc in the household while breaking trust.
 
It’s as difficult to recover from spousal infidelity as it is to recover from adultery. Some people say it’s even worse, as financial infidelity directly impacts your life and your future.
 
If you know your spouse has a history with financial infidelity you need to take some steps to protect yourself during the divorce process.
How you do this will depend on how your finances are already set up.
 
For example, if you already have a joint bank account you can’t just withdraw half and deposit it somewhere else. Instead, you’ll probably need a temporary court order dictating how the money can and can’t be spent during the divorce process.
 
It may be a good idea to set up an individual bank account. You don’t have to keep depositing money into the joint account once the divorce process starts. But keep paying your bills: it’s not time to assume anything is your spouse’s responsibility yet unless you have a court order.
 
How to handle your share of the finances so your spouse doesn’t run out and spend it all needs to be one of your first questions to your lawyer.
 

Become relentlessly organized.

The spouse who lies about money during the marriage will probably lie about money during the divorce, too. If you’re the one serving your spouse with divorce papers make sure you gather up every scrap of financial information you know about and make copies. Do it before you hand over the paperwork.
 
After, the spouse may conspire to keep you from accessing these documents. There are legal ways to make sure you and your divorce legal team get them anyway, but they take more time and money.
 

Be prepared to enter a rigorous discovery process.

There’s a chance you’ll miss something even if you do a pretty good job of getting all the paperwork. You can’t be expected to know every place a spouse may hide finances.
 
If you’ve got a lot of assets, own a business, or have other complications it’s going to be a good idea to assemble a team of experts. A forensic accountant, for example, can ensure your spouse didn’t “forget” to tell you about anymore accounts.
 

Avoid mediation or collaborative divorce.

Mediation and collaborative divorce are both all about negotiations. For negotiations to work, you have to trust the other party. And the other party has to be trustworthy.
 
Furthermore, financial infidelity may mean you’re entitled to a greater share of the marital assets. It may also mean your spouse should pay a greater percentage of the debts. Unless your spouse is remorseful or self-aware he or she will fight you on these key points. But you shouldn’t walk away with less than you deserve: your spouse has already made your future difficult enough.
 
 
It goes without saying you’ll need a tough, skilled attorney to guide you through the process. We’ll say it anyway. If this would be a bad divorce to mediate it would definitely be a bad divorce to try navigating on your own.
 
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Sadek and Cooper Law Offices, LLC