Marriage mediation is a good business to get into because divorce is one the rise in California. One of the most common causes of couples separating is financial infidelity. The following is a transcript of an interview with Colleen McNamee of McNamee Mediations.
Financial Infidelity – What is it?
I’m bringing up a topic that I hope isn’t going to get anybody in trouble here today, that it’s financial infidelity. And we’ve done divorce shows many times here on the show, and people always ask, you know, “Why are you doing divorce on a fashion show?” Well, as I say every time, divorce is extremely financially burdensome – if that’s the right way to say it. It’s a burden because it’s so expensive. And what we’ve found is that divorce isn’t always caused by infidelity of the kind you’re thinking about.
Finances typically play one of the biggest parts in a divorce. In this particular case, we did some researching and we found an article by Kimberly Foss, it says, “Studies are showing that some 7 million Americans have a secret bank account or credit card account that their spouses no nothing about, and most of those doing the hiding are men”, according to this study.
Again, financial expert Kimberly Foss says, “Financial infidelity is more common than people think, and anything it’s on a rise.” Here today to answer of these listener questions on a surprising but yet intriguing topic is our TLP, Colleen McNamee from McNamee Mediations, and she is an attorney but she specializes in mediation. And Colleen, welcome back to the show!
Colleen McNamee Discussed How Financial Dishonesty is a Rising Cause of Divorce
Thanks Dino! It’s good to be here! So Colleen, what are your thoughts on Financial Infidelity? I mean, you see couples all the time. Would you say this is this is a big topic or is it just on the rise, and now it’s starting to happen more often? I think it’s just on the rise.I was actually surprised that just in the last week I saw that there was a whole show on this on the news, then the next morning I heard it on a radio show. And I thought, “Wow! This is really kind of an epidemic!”
And it’s not something that I come across very frequently in the mediation atmosphere or at least not in an egregious way where there’s hundreds of thousands of dollars the other party doesn’t know about. But there definitely are a lot of situations where one party’s the breadwinner and then the other party maintains the household finances. And that’s very typical, very common. So then, in those scenarios, the breadwinner really has no idea what the homemaker is paying, say for electric bills, credit card bills. You know, they’re just making the money and the other spouse is making the payments, and they really have no idea. But it doesn’t mean that anything nefarious is a plan necessarily. And Colleen, we’ve talked about this. We’ve talked about it before the
show. Valentine’s day, right? Yes. It just passed. And February,
I think you told me, is one of the largest filings for divorce, is that right? Well, it’s actually January into February. So, it is the Holidays coming off of Christmas and
New Year’s, and probably Thanksgiving should be included in that as well. And then, the
Valentine’s Day holiday. It’s somewhere right in between all of that. A lot of affairs and financial problems tend to be discovered, and then people start filing, or at least, making calls to educate themselves to educate themselves on what it would entail to file. How is it possible that somebody has a separate bank account or a separate credit card, and the other doesn’t know about it. I mean, I’m just going to say it, I know everything, but maybe I don’t! I mean, how is that even possible? Well, I think you are not alone in wondering that because I easily keep wondering that myself.
Like I just mentioned, a lot of people do have a division in how the bills are paid. And so, you have one primary person who’s paying all the bills and the other party is the one who is making the money. And so, there’s just really an incongruity in managing the finances because they have each developed their own roles, and there probably haven’t been any problems for the most part. But also, something that’s really common is that people have separate bank accounts, especially when you have dual incomes and you don’t have a homemaker and a breadwinner. And so what people are doing is they have one primary checking account that they use pay all the household expenses out of, and then they have separate accounts and that’s where their paychecks go, and they just put into the community one whatever they need for their monthly expenses.
That’s a situation where I think you can have some financial infidelity because you have no idea what the other party is spending their money on from their own personal account. But yet, all of this is subject to community property laws. So if they’re racking up bills that the other spouse does not know about. It can become a problem should they decide to divorce down the road.
Real Case of Financial Infidelity in California
So here’s a real case example: There was a couple that was married for 27 years, and they had several children. And throughout their marriage money was always a sore subject. They were always fighting about finances whether it was they didn’t have enough money, too much was being spent, that it was always a sore spot and a point of contention for this couple. Once the children were grown and had moved out of the house, they decided to create separate checking accounts and no longer operate out of a community one. This actually worked great for them and it diffused the problems that they’ve been having throughout the marriage regarding finances. And so, you know, years down the road, they just sort of grew apart and decided amicably that they were going to go ahead and get a divorce – had nothing to do with money problems. And so when they started their divorce process, it was discovered that the husband had a ton of credit card bills that he’d wrapped up. And the wife had no idea about it because she paid for her own, he paid for his own. And this really led to a huge blow up in their relationship. And obviously, the divorce became more contentious because that debt is subject to community property laws because it was incurred while they were married.