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Money disputes are for wealthy couples, too

When you and your spouse married, you may have expected your life to be comfortable. If either or both of you earn a significant salary, you probably thought money would not be an issue. As a result, you may have expected your marriage to be secure since money disputes are the root of many divorces.

It may have come as a shock to you when you and your spouse began to argue about money. While it may be a small comfort, you are not alone. Disagreements about money are not restricted to those couples who do not have any. In fact, couples with substantial assets may still have basic differences in their financial philosophies.

What is your main conflict?

Spouses arguing when they can't pay their bills is only one example of the kinds of disputes couples have over money. In fact, money arguments often represent much deeper issues, and spouses who frequently return to this topic in the heat of the moment may benefit from counseling.

More often, spouses who have frequent disagreements about their finances may have different attitudes about earning, saving, spending and borrowing money. You and your spouse may experience common conflicts including these:

  • One of you likes to spend, and the other wants to save.
  • You and your spouse do not share the same long-term goals, such as saving for a house or planning your retirement.
  • You have opposing views about the use of credit cards.
  • One of you is keeping financial secrets, such as not disclosing substantial debt, opening secret credit card accounts, or using household accounts to gamble or feed another addiction.
  • Perhaps you both spend recklessly on payday or make extravagant impulse buys instead of planning where your money should go.
  • You cannot agree on how to budget your money.
  • You have no emergency fund, so you argue about how to deal with unexpected expenses.

If one of you earns significantly more than the other, such as when one spouse leaves a job to raise children, you may find that the higher-earning spouse takes control of the money, leaving the other spouse with little or no input. This can be stressful and damaging to a relationship.

Just as money conflicts can quickly lead to a breakdown in a marriage, so they can play a critical role in your divorce. If you are considering divorce, you would be wise to have a skilled attorney who can ensure you obtain a fair portion of marital assets without ending up carrying more than your share marital debt.

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