Infidelity is one of the most common reasons that couples seek divorce. However, not all infidelity is the result of an extramarital affair. Couples also wind up heading to divorce court as a result of financial infidelity, as opposed to physical infidelity.

Your life is intertwined with that of your spouse. The decisions they make can have a profound and lasting impact on your quality of life and your financial stability. If the person you marry is not honest with you about financial issues, that can lead to serious problems down the road.

Spouses who discover financial infidelity in their marriage will have to make the difficult decision about whether their spouse deserves a chance to make up for their financial indiscretions. For many, financial infidelity is the first step on the path toward divorce.

What is financial infidelity and why does it lead to divorce?

At its most basic, financial infidelity is the intentional withholding or hiding of financial information from a spouse. You and your spouse have a significant impact on one another’s financial situations. The mistakes your spouse makes can impact your savings account and even your credit score.

Hiding debt from a spouse is a common form of financial infidelity. Your spouse may take out new credit cards or spend frivolously with ones you already have. That extra debt can have a major impact on your credit score, your monthly budget and your retirement savings. It can even result in collection activity, such as calls at work and frightening letters from lenders.

If you and your spouse do not share similar financial values, such as reducing debt or saving as much as possible, that discrepancy in values increases the likelihood that your spouse may intentionally hide or obfuscate their financial records to keep you from knowing their real spending habits. All of those little lies can add up to major financial issues in your future.

If you suspect financial infidelity, records are important for your case

Suspecting financial infidelity and proving it are two different things. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, lying about debt or otherwise committing acts of financial infidelity, you need to look over your financial records closely. Tax documents, bank statements and credit card bills are a good place to start.

However, some people are very good at hiding assets and debts from their spouses. In some cases, you may need the assistance of a professional, such as a forensic accountant, to track down questionable transactions and provide you with financial transparency. Without accurate records, you could end up paying some of that debt after a divorce or not receiving a fair share of the overall assets from your marriage.

Getting copies of all of your financial records before you file for divorce is very important. Without those records, you will have a hard time ensuring a fair outcome to the asset division process in your divorce.