Many people secretly stash money in fear of a future divorce

A fifth of middle-aged people are putting money aside in the event of divorce, a new survey suggests.

A poll of 1851 over 40s, conducted by Prudential, found that an increasing number of couples kept their financial affairs secret from one another.

Many of those questioned admitted to keeping quiet about how much they earned, while others owned up to having stashed away an average of £20,800 unbeknown to their spouse.

One of the most common reasons for keeping cash a secret was because individuals wanted a “contingency plan” should their relationship flounder in future.

Sometimes there was an altruistic reason for the secret savings, such as splashing out on a family surprise or wanting to use the money to buy things for their partner.

Others were acting very much with their own interests at heart; a quarter claimed they needed to put money aside to maintain their independence or to treat themselves. Six per cent said that the cache was used to fund another partner or family.

In many cases, many just do not trust their significant other to manage financial affairs.

Caroline Hawkesley, director of financial advisers Evolve, said: “Keeping finances separate is fairly common and can indicate any number of things – it could be a crack in the relationship but equally a partner might be fearful that their spouse would find their wealth off-putting.

“Many of us will have friends where the wife goes shopping and hides new shoes in the wardrobe pretending they are old ones, while the husband underplays his salary at the same time.”

Both spouses should have funds in their own name to fund legal fees in the event their relationship breaks down. But it’s important to bear in mind that there is also a duty to disclose all savings when exchanging financial information during divorce proceedings.