KARE-11 recently did a series on what they called “financial infidelity.” We linked one of the pieces to our Facebook page. By financial infidelity, KARE-11 is referring to situations where one spouse spends significant money behind the other spouse’s back. As a divorce lawyer, I see this all the time, so I thought I’d weigh in as well.
Perhaps not surprisingly, financial infidelity is a common reason why marriages fail. Spouses often have different ideas about what they should do with their money. One spouse might be more of a spender and the other more of a saver. The spender might spend money behind the saver’s back, and when the saver finds out about it, they have a decision to make. Do they accept the spending, and try to find a way to save the marriage, or do they “stop the bleeding” and seek a divorce?
That decision can only be made by the spouse in that situation. But they might be guided by some legal considerations. Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state. So, just as a cheating spouse is not punished by the Court when engaging in more traditional infidelity, the saving spouse won’t necessarily be rewarded by the Court if the spending spouse engaged in financial infidelity. The financial infidelity might be the underlying reason for the divorce, but Courts really don’t care why a marriage is dissolving. The law specifically provides that the Court is to make a “just and equitable” division of marital property “without regard to marital misconduct.” That can include financial infidelity.
As with everything, there are exceptions. The timing of the financial infidelity is important. A Court won’t care too much about financial infidelity that occurred sometime in the past. Most often, that’s just water under the bridge. The money is gone. But you can’t be dissipating marital assets (or engaging in financial infidelity) either in contemplation of starting a divorce, or during the divorce proceedings. You’re allowed to spend money for the “necessities of life” during divorce proceedings, but you can’t make extreme purchases.
Again, when a spouse cheats, the other spouse has to decide whether they want to give them another chance and try to save the marriage or not. Often times with the help of counseling, many marriages survive despite infidelity. The same can hold true with financial infidelity.
It’s difficult to give hard-and- fast advice that will apply in every situation. If financial infidelity has occurred in your marriage, and you’re wondering what to do about it, seek the advice of a lawyer who can give you specific advice tailored to your circumstances.
Contact Beyer & Simonson
If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.