A lot of women find themselves at a financial disadvantage when going through a divorce. Many of them stayed home and cared for their children while their husbands worked and brought home the household income. Others worked part-time, which allowed them the flexibility to care for their kids after school.
In both circumstances, their husbands may have taken the reins over managing the money. Matters related to income, investments, and taxes were essentially hidden from them. The problem is that a lot of women in that situation discover they lack control over their financial futures when their marriages implode. That makes it difficult for them to become financially independent.
One option is for women who are getting a divorce to squirrel money away without informing their husbands. That doesn’t mean hiding millions in a secret account in the Cayman Islands. It just entails opening a checking account in their own name and using it for quick access to cash when needed.
Below, we’ll spell out some of the pros and cons to taking this approach. Our goal is to provide a balanced perspective. Only you can decide whether setting aside cash is the advisable thing to do given the relationship you share with your future ex-husband.
Reasons To Consider Putting Money Aside
One of the most compelling reasons to start a secret fund is that you’ll have sole access to the money. Your husband won’t be able to withdraw it. You can count on the funds being available if you need them. Many women have learned the hard way that lacking exclusive control over their money can leave them without the resources they need to pay their bills.
Another benefit of putting money aside is that you’ll be in charge of how it is used. You won’t need to inform your husband that you intend to spend shared funds. The cash is yours to use as you wish.
There is also a strong sense of independence that comes with maintaining your own source of money. That independence can provide a confidence boost that benefits you during the divorce settlement negotiations.
Potential Risks Of Stashing Away Cash
There are a few potential downsides to keeping a secret account as you go into a divorce. First, doing so may open the door to accusations that you’ve been stealing money that belongs to both you and your husband. If you’re using the money to pay bills and buy food, such accusations are likely to be dismissed or seen as indefensible.
Also, your husband (or his attorney) may accuse you of trying to conceal assets that would otherwise be considered in a divorce settlement. Although it is true that concealing assets during a divorce is illegal, merely having a checking account in your own name is not. Besides, as long as you list the money and the account in which it sits on the financial affidavit, accusations that you’re hiding assets are unlikely to gain traction.
Another potential pitfall of maintaining a secret account is that it can sour an otherwise amicable relationship. Many husbands become angry when they learn their wives have been putting money aside without their knowledge. That can embitter them and make the settlement negotiations contentious.
Protecting The Money You Set Aside
If you decide to keep money in an account to which your husband lacks access, it is important to ensure that access remains restricted. For example, have you ever given your spouse the password to your bank accounts? If so, change it. Will he be able to guess the password? If there’s a chance he can do so, make it more complex.
If you don’t want your husband to know the account exists, make sure that statements are either delivered to your email account or to a P.O. box. In addition, avoid leaving your cell phone untended. Otherwise, your spouse might retrieve texts and emails that reveal the existence of your account.
Having said the above, you may decide to inform your husband about your personal account from the outset. There may be no need to hide it from him. But make sure access to the account is well-guarded.
The idea of stashing money away strikes many women as underhanded. They believe they can trust their husbands to treat them with fairness. As noted earlier, only you can make the decision to keep money on the side when heading into a divorce. If you have questions regarding the legal issues of doing so, consult a qualified divorce attorney who can offer experienced advice.