Divorce When You're the 'Out Spouse'

It is not unusual for spouses to have very different financial roles in a marriage, especially if one spouse is the breadwinner or earns significantly more than the other spouse. One spouse may have a much greater earning power and the “out spouse” may have very little or even nothing to do with the couple’s finances.

The “out spouse” may be on a weekly or monthly allowance or they may have to ask their spouse for spending money. The “out spouse” may not handle any of the bills, and they may not have a clue as to how much money is in their spouse’s bank accounts.

When a spouse is on the “outs,” they can feel clueless, helpless, and even vulnerable as they contemplate divorce. If you’re an “out spouse,” it can be a real disadvantage as you approach divorce, especially if your spouse fails to provide you with complete and accurate financial information. However, by taking a proactive approach to the unfavorable situation, it is possible to achieve a desirable outcome in your divorce proceeding.

I’m Not Sure if I’m the Out Spouse

Some married couples are strong partners when it comes to handling their finances. Both spouses budget together and they pay bills as a team. In these situations, the spouses are fully aware of their assets and debts, and how much is coming in and going out each month. With other couples, one spouse, the higher earner, is the “in spouse” and the other spouse is the “out spouse.”

Usually, the “out spouse” doesn’t know how much their husband or wife earns every month, they don’t know how much their monthly bills are, they don’t know how much is in checking and savings, and they don’t have access to all of the couple’s bank accounts.

Where Do I Begin?

As the out spouse, you may not have a clue where to begin. And be aware that once you file for divorce, your spouse may try to hide assets as soon as they are served divorce papers. Before you discuss a divorce with your spouse, try to locate the tax returns, mortgage papers, bank statements, both of your paystubs, and stock dividend receipts. Make copies of them and keep them at a friend’s house or at your work.

“What if my spouse has hidden all of these statements from me?” In that case, contact our firm right away. In every California divorce, spouses are required to disclose all of their financial information. If an “in spouse” is prone to hiding assets, it’s possible to freeze marital assets, but this is only the beginning. There are other tools that can protect you as the “out spouse” and penalize your spouse for financial misconduct in a divorce proceeding.