Do You Have a Secret Bank Account?

Late last week, a woman filed a lawsuit against Chase Manhattan Bank for contacting her husband regarding a bank account that she had kept secret from him...a bank account that contained approximately $800,000 obtained prior to their marriage. For obvious reasons, marital strife ensued and “in an effort to save her marriage,” the wife gave her husband $155,000. Now she wants Chase to pay.

Without a doubt, the bank has violated her privacy by revealing the contents of her bank account to a third party, regardless of the fact that it was her husband. On one hand, the business-minded side of me can find justification for keeping assets such as these private under the right set of circumstances. On the other hand, the romantic side of me (yes it does exist!) imagines that I would be furious if I found out that my spouse was keeping an $800K secret.

“The man who has no secrets from his wife either has no secrets or no wife.” — Gilbert Wells

Don’t get me wrong … I’m a firm believer in community property … as long as community property refers to assets obtained during the marriage. I also believe that prenuptial agreements should firmly protect all assets (and the fruits they reap) obtained prior to the marriage.

Many marriages operate successfully with separate bank accounts that allow for individual, unmonitored spending while other marriages are built on full and complete disclosure when it comes to finances. But haven’t we all heard the horror stories of divorce? Tales of emptied bank accounts, transferred or missing assets, and frozen credit cards are enough to motivate the most die-hard romantic to tuck away some measure of “mad money.” And how do we handle our lovable yet financially irresponsible spouses? Gambling addicts? Perpetual shoppers? In-laws and other family members who always seem to have a hand out that our spouse can’t help but oblige? We hope that we are able to agree with our spouse on how the money should or shouldn’t be spent in these circumstances, but if we can’t … Is there something wrong with saving a little more on the side in the event of a rainy day?

Do you have a secret bank account? Does it help or hurt your marriage?

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