Financial infidelity can destroy the trust on which a marriage is built. It can be as hurtful as romantic infidelity and have ramifications that impact the future of both spouses and their children.
Financial infidelity might stem from a drug or gambling addiction that leaves you in debt. It could be caused by hidden tax issues or even a failed business. When one partner is dishonest about major financial issues, it triggers anger and deep distrust that can easily destroy a marriage.
Some spouses engage in couples counseling after the disclosure of financial betrayal and decide to give the marriage another chance. For those couples, we highly recommend Postnuptial Agreements that help set the terms that will create a sense of security.
Other couples, however, realize that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that they need to divorce. If this describes you or someone you care about, you need to know that even with all the powerful negative emotions at play, couples facing financial betrayal can still have a non-adversarial divorce and keep it out of court. It may feel natural to want to “punish” the spouse who betrayed the other by having a judge render “revenge” in court. But in the long run, the betrayed spouse’s interests (and those of their children) will usually be better served by using a collaborative divorce process to negotiate the terms that work for both spouses, rather than hope you’ll be satisfied with the terms randomly passed down by a judge.
The Collaborative Team Approach is Geared to Help You
In a traditional, adversarial litigated divorce, two attorneys compete to see who can impress the judge. Often the desire to “win” is the focus, rather than the specific needs of the client.
Collaborative divorce starts with a supportive team instead of battle preparations. In addition to each spouse having their own collaborative lawyer, the team includes a neutral financial professional to help find the best plan for your financial security and a family specialist with mental health training to help manage the difficult emotions both spouses will be feeling and help improve communication during the negotiations. Working together, the collaborative divorce team will help the spouses to find ways to rebuild trust gradually through a series of small agreements.
Division of Assets Will Be Different
When one party commits financial infidelity, they waste marital assets. The law in New York recognizes this and acknowledges that in a divorce, the spouse who wasted those assets will receive fewer assets in the divorce. For instance, if one spouse spends $30,000 on an extra-marital affair, that spouse would receive $30,000 less when the marital assets are divided.
Sometimes, the cost of the wasted funds is easy to calculate. Other times, a forensic accountant is needed to help determine the full extent of marital waste. But even then, it does not mean that you need to take matters to court and engage in a battle of the experts. Instead, a neutral forensic accountant can help the couple determine what was wrongfully spent and help them work out a plan, in private, to equitably divide the remaining assets.
Work with Attorneys Who are Prepared to Respect and Protect Your Interests
When dealing with financial betrayal, you deserve to have an attorney who understands the situation, can explain your options, and guide you to your best life.
Vacca Family Law Group is committed to protecting our clients’ full range of interests, whether legal, financial, relational, or emotional. For many couples, we believe the collaborative divorce process will provide the most productive method of reaching agreements that work for all members of the family going forward. To discuss how the process might work in your situation, we invite you to contact us for a confidential consultation.