Katie Smith has heard it all: The husband whose wife “could be a little pushy” about his drinks with the guys, so he secretly signed up for his own credit card. The husband who was throwing away money gambling online, but keeping it from his wife.
“These cases happen more frequently than one would think,” Smith says, “but it is also true that my business nature is prone to attract cases like this.”
Smith is a finance manager at a “divorce solicitor” in Leeds, England. Divorce attorneys work a little differently across the pond, and Smith’s firm Leeds Divorce Solicitors offers more services than simply fighting it out for assets.
Smith’s business experiences has armed her with advice for women on dealing with a man who is spending behind their backs. Here’s what she shared…
Pay attention to behavior, not just unpaid bills
One of the easiest ways to find out if your husband is hiding money is to find an unpaid bill or a suspicious bank statement. However, Smith learned from one client that it’s not how you hide the money, but your behavior afterwards that will get you caught.
That’s how one successful business woman realized that her husband had a serious gambling problem.
“This woman was head of a small restaurant group, with four different locations,” says Smith. “The husband is in the construction and real estate developing business, which means they both managed a fine salary.”
When the woman realized her husband had an online gambling debt, it wasn’t because of a negative bank account.
“His wife quickly found out first because of his behavior, rather than for unpaid bills,” Smith says. “She took a swift decision: She told him that from that moment on she would be in charge of the couple’s money, otherwise they would break up.”
Spouses hide money for different reasons
When a man is hiding money from his spouse, it’s probably not for a divorce lawyer.
“Usually, it’s the husband or male partner who is hiding,” Smith says. “He’s more frequently the one bringing more money and also the one more interested in having side things to waste money on.”
Women are more likely to hide money because they plan on leaving their partner in the near future. It can be difficult to begin saving for a separation or divorce for women who rely on their husbands financially.
It will be hard to do this when you have a possessive and obsessive husband. If you’re the one usually taking care of the bills, it may be easier to take a small chunk per month to a different bank account. Nowadays it’s easier to set-up online bank accounts, where you can go without being noticed.
The best advice for women in this situation is to be surrounded by family and friends who will give a hand during those first times after the break-up.
Honesty is the best policy
When Debt.com asked a male divorce lawyer about financial infidelity, he suggested to begin stashing any new income in a separate bank account that your spouse doesn’t know about.
Smith disagrees. She believes when a man starts hiding money from his wife, it’s only a matter of time before they are found out.
“They can’t run and hide for long, as long as the woman does some simple math,” says Smith. “It’s like those people who get fired and keep going outside every day to hide it. It can’t last long.”
Smith says that being straightforward with your partner is the only way to fix a relationship strained by money problems. Her client with a gambling-addicted husband told her that being brutally honest only helped her marriage in the end.
“The important point here is that she actually loved him and was never afraid of taking a stand,” Smith says. “She would do everything she could to help her husband and to keep their love and their family, but ultimately he would have to do that major first step.”
“What I learned from her is that having your financial independence is always important to keep you and your family, but it doesn’t mean you have to quit or run in hard times,” she added. “In the end, they both got into a win-win situation.”
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