Marriage can be joyful because of the commitment, the love, and the shared bank accounts. But what happens when those shared accounts start to look a little one-sided? When one partner decides to hide their earnings like a squirrel hiding their nuts for the winter? In such cases, divorce settlements become a lot more interesting.
You might be thinking, "Why would anyone hide their earnings from their spouse?" Well, we could think of several reasons. Maybe they're saving up for a surprise trip to the Bahamas, or maybe they're simply trying to keep their spending habits on the down low. But it can also be because they don't want to share the wealth as in the case of a Chinese man who was divorcing his wife and thought it was a good idea to keep a large portion of his wealth for himself.
The price you pay for hiding wealth from your spouse
Again, you might be thinking, “Why would this Chinese man want to hide his earnings from his spouse?” We’ll tell you. But first, let us tell you why people would do such a thing.
Truthfully, lying to one’s partner about finances isn’t that unusual. Many people do it, and according to one study, one-third of Americans in a committed relationship conceal bank accounts or credit cards from their partner. Perhaps, for many, financial infidelity is not as bad as regular infidelity. This raises the question, is it really that bad to not disclose your complete financial standing to your partner/spouse?
It depends. Some people do it without malicious intent, but others do.
Are you secretly stashing cash for a future getaway from your partner? Are you funneling some of your earnings to a secret account and making your partner shoulder most, if not all, of the household expenses? Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is shady. These are just a few instances of toxic financial infidelity. Other forms of financial infidelity include hiding one’s gambling addictions and withholding cash from one’s spouse for no other reason than to bully them. It costs much less not to be that kind of person.
Financial unfaithfulness can result in consequences for the cheat, as in the case of Mr. Zhang, a Chinese man who hid his fortune from his wife in a divorce case.
A classic tale of deception
Mr. Zi’s wife, Ms. Zhang, thought her hubby was broke, only to find out that he made bank. During their divorce proceedings, Zi lied about his earnings, saying he made only 100,000 yuan ($14,500) per year ― but in truth, he was making up to three million yuan ($430,000) a year.
It was also reported that he had been withdrawing huge sums of money before the divorce proceedings. He would soon discover that those withdrawals would cost him. Eventually, a Beijing court discovered undisclosed assets in Li's possession and ruled that his ex-wife is entitled to 60% of them.
The exact amounts remain undisclosed, but it hasn't stopped Chinese social media users from buzzing about the case. One man very dramatically remarked that getting married is like becoming a lifelong servant to your spouse. Some others commented that Zhang got lucky to be entitled to a fair split but that unfortunately, not every housewife has the same luck.
Who doesn't like a little transparency in relationships?
Zhang was ultimately saved from being cheated out of a fair division of assets because, before their separation, China had recently revised the law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women. In a nutshell, the revised law holds couples accountable in divorce cases, making it harder for the financially dominant spouse to hide their assets.
Previously, some men in China hid their wealth in court proceedings, but now the courts can investigate and reveal the truth. With almost nine million marriage and family cases settled by courts nationwide between 2018 and 2022, the Supreme People's Court is making a bold move to promote fairness and honesty.
The lesson? If you're thinking of hiding your earnings from your significant other, remember that the only thing you'll be hiding is your chances of a fair settlement.
Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams is the legal representation you need for your divorce in Washington State. Call our law offices in Renton today.