Your instincts may be tell you that something strange is brewing in your marriage, or perhaps the tensions between the two of you are becoming palpable. But how do you really know if your spouse is considering splitting up and filing for divorce? The answer may be as simple as following the money trail.
Here are eight financial clues that your spouse may want a divorce:
1. Sudden shifts in financial behavior: A common warning sign of an impending split is often a spouse who, without warning — and with no consultation — suddenly begins new habits with handling money. You may find evidence of a newly opened, private bank account and/or new credit card accounts opened in his or her name only. Another common red flag is finding out that a spouse’s paycheck (all or part) no longer directly deposits to your joint account.
2. More questioning of your spending habits: If your spouse begins asking how you spend money — what you buy, who the items are for, and/or where the money is coming from for anything new that has come into your possession, this kind of sudden accounting may indicate suspicion on your spouse’s part that you may be having an affair, or could be a general indication that the spouse is gathering financial evidence (such as what financial information is included in the Case Information Statement) in the event of a divorce.
3. Your spouse starts showering you with gifts: This may sound like a good thing, and in some cases gifts are a sign of a “peace offering.” But in other marriages, giving lavish gifts, such as expensive jewelry or a car, may be a distraction to get the suspicious spouse to stop asking questions about the other’s behavior.
4. Bills start disappearing from the mail: If you typically receive credit card statements like clockwork on the first of every month, and then suddenly they no longer show up in the mailbox, it could be a sign that credit card bills are being sent to another address, such as the spouse’s place of work, in order to hide certain expenses.
5. Additional business travel: The travel itself could be legitimate, but because expenses for business travel are often directly comped by the spouse’s work or put on a company credit card, it becomes more difficult to track a spouse’s activities on business trips. If a spouse wants to hide dinners at certain locations or certain spending activities, rolling it into business could be one way to do it.
6. Increasing joint debt: If you are already having problems in your marriage, and your spouse begins to pressure you into a home equity loan on your jointly-held mortgage because “interest rates are great” or wants to open up more joint credit cards, proceed with caution. First, there is the issue of what does he or she want to spend this money on? And second, there is the issue of being held responsible for part of this debt in the event you do divorce and marital debts are divided.
7. Your spouse begins complaining incessantly about money: You may think your finances feel relatively stable, but all of a sudden, your spouse is telling you to be prepared that not all of his or her bonus may come through this year, you need to think about getting by on less, and/or maybe you should try to get extra work now. These kinds of statements can be ominous warnings of the financial turmoil that families experience when one spouse leaves. On the other hand, some spouses may use this as a ploy to make the other think less money is at stake when they do go to divorce and support amounts are calculated and assets divided. Don’t take money complaints at face value; look for proof of changed finances.
8. You find evidence that your spouse has met with or hired an attorney: If your marriage is seriously troubled and it comes out that your spouse is secretly seeing a lawyer, even if it’s a lawyer you know your spouse has used before for business or personal dealings, it is probably a very strong signal that you need to get your financial and legal ducks in a row. This may be the point where you want to start looking for a divorce lawyer.
Bottom line when it comes to strange financial behavior? Hopefully these stormy times will pass. But whenever there is tension in the air, and secret goings on behind the scenes, it is better to be vigilant then caught off-guard.