I am often asked, “Who is the worst in marriage when it comes to being dishonest about money and assets”?

Comparing all the divorce stories I have heard, I’ve come to the conclusion that neither one is worst than the other. I don’t believe it’s a matter of gender but rather of personality.

I have seen marriages where the most amazing man marries the most selfish, self-absorbed woman and vice versa; where the most caring, loving woman marries the most heartless and vulgar man. Sometimes there seems to be neither rhyme nor reason as to whom people marry.   It’s either about chemistry or perhaps insecurity; there is either something about one that attracts the other or where one preys on the frailties of another. I am not saying that this occurs in all marriages, but just in some of those, I have witnessed.

In some marriages, there may be one who is the “alpha” (gosh I loath that word but it’s true). There is always one who has to be boss cocky and control the relationship, be in the power seat so to speak; while the other must follow and be the appeaser. Now the sort of control an alpha can display may range from outright overbearing and threaten or, it can be subtle and manipulative.  This behaviour may not reveal itself at the beginning of the relationship but rather establishes itself over a period. It is often this person who also controls the family purse strings

When a marriage breaks down, and couples must negotiate their property settlement, the party in the marriage which has always controlled the family money and has been somewhat secretive about the details of family assets, may start to dodge questions during family law negotiations. I often refer to this person as being a narcissist.  Why? Because this person believes they are the most important person in the marriage and consequently may try to secure as much as possible of the family pool of assets for their benefit.

A narcissist believes their needs are the most important of any other in the family equation. They may have been the main breadwinner and believe it is this that sees them having a greater sense of entitlement to the family money pot.  They do not equate the sacrifice of another having given up their career or education to care for a family; they don’t see the value in being a homemaker, they don’t care that depriving their partner of their fair share as being anything wrong.

They may mask their real intention (keeping the majority of money for themselves) by seeking to justify concerns they have that whatever may be paid for the upkeep on their children may be haphazardly spent by their ex on non-child essential items. A narcissist has little or no empathy for others and has fabricated a reality in which they are superior and more important.

I often see marriages where one party is more of a giver, while the other party may be more of a taker. I see takers as being narcissistic. If this sounds a little like the person, you are married to then at least now you know why they behave the way they do and that it may be time to set some limits.



Elizabeth Camillo

31st March, 2020

My name is Elizabeth Camillo and I am a forensic accountant specialising in family law. My role in your divorce is to value the family business, to prove the truth of the financial statement provided by your ex partner and to investigate any suspicions you may have relating to your partner hiding or devaluing assets purchased with your martial money.