If you tend to take a hands-off approach to your family's finances, you may not give much thought to how your spouse is spending money until you're surprised by the unexpected -- a late payment notice on your mortgage, having your electricity shut off, or being blindsided by a direct confession of an affair. Unfortunately, by the time these circumstances manifest themselves, you could be in real financial trouble due to your spouse's spending on a third party. Read on to learn more about some of the red flags that can indicate your spouse is siphoning money away from your family to spend on another person, as well as what you can do to confirm (or disprove) your suspicions.
What are some red flags that your spouse is spending marital funds on an affair?
Even prior to major warnings, there can be some mild inconsistencies that, when taken together with other factors, may point toward third-party spending. If you notice several of these red flags, it may be worth some deeper digging:
- Refusal to show you bank or investment statements (especially if he or she was willing to share this information before)
- Frustration at being asked questions about your joint finances
- Overly convoluted or long-winded answers to simple questions
- A decrease in the amount of creditor mail coming to your home (sometimes, those who are having an affair will get a post office box to reroute any credit card statements or other documents that could give the affair away)
- Long hours spent at work with no corresponding increase in pay or promise of a bonus (absent well-known turmoil at your spouse's place of employment)
You may also want to investigate further if your spouse has recently cycled through several jobs in quick succession or seems to find it difficult to obtain a new job, seemingly through no fault of his or her own -- often, an employee who has embezzled a relatively small amount of money in furtherance of an affair (or to repay marital funds spent on a third party) may find themselves blacklisted from their prior industry, even if supervisors are unwilling to go to the police with this information. Those who are fired for no explainable reason (or an implausible reason) may have been caught having an affair with a subordinate or coworker against work policy.
What can you do to confirm or disprove your suspicions?
If you find yourself wondering whether your spouse is spending money on another person, your best bet is to begin with a frank and honest conversation in as non-judgmental a posture as you can muster. Doing this can give you the knowledge of how to proceed, one way or another -- whether your spouse completely shuts down, reacts with anger or defensiveness, or breaks down and apologizes for the circumstances that led to this conversation taking place.
When your spouse doesn't provide you with much information on the state of your finances, you may opt to enlist the services of a forensic accountant who can look through your financial records carefully to spot any discrepancies that could require explanation on your spouse's part. This is an aggressive move and can often end in divorce, so it's important to ensure you're ready to deal with the potential fallout of this step before undertaking it. And unless you are a joint owner of the accounts you're having analyzed, you'll need a court order (usually obtained pursuant to a divorce proceeding) requiring your spouse to turn over certain electronics and financial information, including passwords. Without such an order, you won't be able to gain access to any accounts held in only your spouse's name. To learn more, contact a company like Epps Forensic Consulting PLLC.