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Stealth spending tearing U.S. marriages apart

A type of infidelity is tearing American marriages apart, but it may not be a kind of cheating Georgia readers are familiar with. It's known as financial infidelity, and studies have found that it is creeping into many U.S. marriages.

Financial infidelity, also known as stealth spending, occurs when one spouse hides financial information from their partner. Creditcards.com surveyed 843 people in random telephone interviews and found that around 20 percent of spouses feel it's okay to spend $500 without telling their partner. Another 6 percent of spouses have hidden bank accounts that their partner knows nothing about.

Spouses can commit financial infidelity in different ways. Some will hoard gift cards for a spending spree, while others may make a series of ATM withdrawals over a period of time and then splurge on a big purchase. Some spouses even open stealth bank and credit card accounts in order to secretly fund purchases. Financial cheaters also tend to lie about their secret spending when confronted by their spouses. For instance, a study found that 64 percent of men will tear up receipts and hide purchases to avoid having a fight with their partner.

According to experts, conflict avoidance is a major reason spouses lie about finances, but the practice backfires. Secret spending often causes budget disasters that lead to financial arguments, which are the top cause of divorce. Experts say couples should talk openly about their finances to avoid built-up resentments and extra financial problems.

A Georgia resident who is facing the end of a marriage may want to meet with a family law attorney to discuss how to proceed. Legal counsel could provide essential guidance when negotiating a comprehensive settlement agreement that covers property division, spousal support, child custody and other applicable legal issues.

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