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Financial Infidelity Leads to Divorce, Study Says

It's a sad, old, broken record: A couple suffers from an extended period of money secrets and lies and soon one of the spouses is desperately seeking divorce advice in Pasadena. We've heard stories of celebrity marriages falling apart over money problems and seen it happen to the lives of our friends and neighbors. Yet financial infidelity has remained one of divorce's dirty little secrets - too shameful for victims to discuss and too hurtful for money cheaters to talk about, financial infidelity finally is being discussed openly. A new study claims that financial cheating breaks up more marriages than we think.

The National Endowment for Financial Education, which conducted the survey, says that three in 10 Americans admit to financial deception. Furthermore, the study reports that 58 percent of respondents say they hide cash from their spouse. Another 30 percent admit to hiding bills and outstanding debt while 15 percent keep hidden bank accounts. Nearly 70 percent of the couples admitted financial infidelity caused problems in their relationships, while the problems causes 16 percent of divorces.

The statistics are evidence that when it comes to marriage, another bank account is more damaging - and more likely - than another woman. According to the study, 42 percent of responders say money issues caused them feelings or betrayal and lack of trust. Months and sometimes of years of secret purchases can add up to big relationship trouble, but experts say it doesn't have to.

"Money provides a potential conflict point in a relationship," Ted Beck, president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education, told ABC News. "But it also can be something that draws a couple closer."

Like most relationship issues, financial infidelity can be battled with ongoing open conversation, he says.

"Couples should talk openly about money, and do so early in the relationship," Beck adds. "Each person should understand their partner's values about money."

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