When people hear about “marriage infidelity” in Massachusetts, they usually think about one spouse committing adultery. However, there’s another form of betrayal that’s subtly but surprisingly on the rise and is leading to a growing volume of gray divorces—financial infidelity.
Understanding financial infidelity
Financial infidelity is when one spouse withholds important financial information from the other, such as bank accounts, credit cards and investments. It may also involve spending money without the partner’s knowledge or consent or making unilateral financial decisions that may affect, strain or burden the other partner.
Causes of financial infidelity
Financial infidelity often starts small but gradually grows into a larger problem as it becomes easier for one spouse to deceive the other. It might result from power imbalances between the couples, low levels of consciousness, financial illiteracy or fear of sharing information.
The consequences of financial infidelity in Massachusetts
Honesty and trust are the pillars of a healthy and happy marriage, and financial infidelity threatens to erode both. In Massachusetts, the consequences of financial infidelity can include a breakdown in communication, tension and stress between spouses.
The costs of financial infidelity in gray divorce
If there is financial infidelity in your marriage, the divorce process will likely be more costly and time-consuming than it would be otherwise. For instance, the court or the spouse that feels cheated on will need to hire a forensic accountant to examine the finances of the other.
The court might also punish the financially unfaithful spouse by awarding the other partner a larger share of the assets or a higher alimony payment. Moreover, a judge may order damages for breach of fiduciary duty or fraud when financial infidelity is particularly egregious.
If you suspect that your partner is engaging in financial infidelity, then it’s important to discuss the issue with them openly. Letting them know that you’re aware of their behavior and taking steps toward an open dialogue is essential if you want to solve the problem together. However, if you’ve reached a point of no return, it’s best to gather financial information that can be used during divorce negotiations.