Besides the whole gravity thing, either love or money make the world go ’round; the catch is we aren’t exactly sure which one, or how much of both, cause the earth to make its orbit. If you look at the link between divorce and finances, you’re inclined to believe money is the clear winner; especially since 58% of adults who combined finances with a romantic partner admitted to hiding money, according to a 2010 National Endowment for Financial Education study. Additionally, 16% of married adults say financial deception led to divorce.
Can’t we all just get along and be honest with each other? Eh, sometimes. It’s a slippery slope from innocent white lies (“You look as svelte as you did 10 years ago.”) to outright lies (“What new credit card?”). However, if a marriage is already checking out of the Ever-After hotel and heading to divorce court, it’s still not a good idea to pull the wool over your spouse’s eyes about the financial pool.
It’s Not Lying, Per Se…
In the divorce process, it can be hard to stay on the straight and narrow with all sorts of emotions swirling inside of you. Let’s face it, there is the little devil on one shoulder and the little enabler on the other; the enabler may be disguised as an angel, but it really is saying things like “Is fibbing on finances really fraud? You did work for that money, after all.”
To the enabler, we say, “You know very well it is.” But to make your decision even easier and clearer, here is a little list of the most common acts of fraud (We hope you aren’t familiar with one of these practices):
Hide (by not listing in the financial affidavit or financial disclosure form) assets or property
Listing an understated or undervalued estimate of the assets or property
Listing a lower amount of income
Listing a higher amount of expenses
What’s Really at Stake?
If the little devil and enabler on your shoulders are still telling you to fudge your finances a bit, then maybe scare tactics will work.
Firstly, there is no such thing as a white lie when it comes to legal matters. Incorrectly completing a financial affidavit is a punishable crime. Even if the form does not ask for a particular financial asset option, not reporting the asset is committing perjury.
Secondly, if the court finds a person guilty of financial deception in a divorce case, a few things can happen: The judge can order the offending spouse to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees, or the judge can grant the other spouse all the assets and property.
If you don’t think a judge would dare, consider the 1999 LA Times story of a woman who tried to conceal her lottery win during her divorce. When it was found out, not only was her husband granted all the property and assets, but he also was granted her $1.3 million lottery winnings. Love of money hurts.