Marriage is not only an emotional pact you make with a significant other, it is a legal and financial commitment that requires trust in order to last. Among the reasons someone might file for divorce is financial infidelity, spending money without a spouse’s knowledge that can quickly lead to divorce.
Financial infidelity is an outright lie about money and spending. At its worst, it is a malicious act such as squirreling away money into a separate account, while using a spouse’s income to pay off bills before calling it quits on the marriage. It could also be hiding a lifestyle which may include gambling debts or drug use that puts a couple’s finances in peril.
Other times it could be that two people really weren’t on the same page in terms of their goals before getting married. One may be a spend thrift, saving for the day they can buy a first home, while the other lives for the moment treating themselves to shopping excursions they cannot afford. Many people commit financial infidelity without really planning to – it just adds up over time to the detriment of the family.
As debt snowballs, one spouse may not be aware that their credit cards are maxed out and the home has a second mortgage until they divorce and a discovery of marital assets and debts reveals a problem. The financial fallout from a partner’s spending can take years if not a lifetime to overcome – keep in mind that any debt a spouse incurs with or without their spouses knowledge belongs to both spouses when they divorce.
Many will attest to the wisdom of discussing your finances including your financial goals early in the relationship – including what debts someone is bringing into a marriage, what their spending habits are, and what are they mutually hope to achieve. Both parties should commit to taking an active role in not only the bigger picture items such as retirement funds and tax returns, but also the day to day spending to avoid financial setbacks.
For divorcing couples who are only beginning to realize just how much debt a spouse has acquired during the marriage, it is important to work with a skilled property division lawyer to negotiate a favorable divorce settlement agreement, perhaps recouping dissipated funds if a spouse continues to spend while the divorce is proceeding. Any experienced attorney can employ various strategies including swapping out one asset in exchange for paying off debt, selling property to liquidate debt, or even bankruptcy protection all with a goal to put you on the path to becoming debt free after a divorce. If you have questions regarding the division of marital assets and debt in an Illinois divorce, contact the Libertyville law offices of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for help at 847-680-4970.