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A spouse's spending habits can lead to divorce

Differences in attitudes and behavior when it comes to money are among the greatest sources of tension in many marriages, whether a couple has limited assets or considerable ones. It's important for couples to have some frank discussions about money before they marry or even before they get engaged.

Personal finance author, investor and Shark Tank star Kevin O'Leary recommends, "Go out on a date and talk about...money. Ask, 'Do you have any debt? Do you owe anything to anybody? How much money do you want to spend? In the next few years, are there are certain things you've got to have, even though we collectively can't afford them?'"

Differences in attitudes toward saving and spending are particularly problematic. However, O'Leary says that the biggest problem, and the one that "will lead to divorce with certainty" is when one spouse "is willing to spend the other's money and has no regard for it."

Often, one spouse is spending the couple's money without telling the other one -- what's known as "financial infidelity." Too often, the other spouse is kept in the dark until learning that the couple is in debt for far more than they can handle.

O'Leary says that couples need to be "in sync" in their views on money. He notes that when he and his wife got married, they were both so concerned with saving money that they served pizza and beer at their wedding.

Some people don't learn that their partner has been overspending the couple into serious debt until divorce talks begin. That's when both spouses are required to make a full disclosure of all assets and debts. Unfortunately, in many high-asset divorces, spouses have many ways to continue to hide assets and debts.

It's essential that you know exactly what you have in marital property and what debts may be in your name that you weren't aware of. Your Rhode Island family law attorney may recommend bringing a forensic accountant onto the team to help root those out.

Source: CNBC, "Kevin O'Leary: This money habit will lead to divorce, 'with certainty'," Ali Montag, Jan. 31, 2018

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