When someone in a lofty financial position is accused of a white collar crime, what happens to their spouse? In many cases, the spouse may know little about the financial affairs that have led to all the trouble. However, that doesn’t mean they’re going to escape unscathed from the scandal and legal turmoil around them.

After digging deep into other people’s stories about their experiences following a spouse’s charges or conviction, the founder of The White-Collar Wives Project says there are a few common experiences you can expect when you’re in this position:

  • You need to realize that the legal peril is real. If your spouse is denying that they’ll ever be convicted, it’s okay to hold out hope for their sake — but don’t buy in to the notion.
  • Your marital assets are in peril. In this way, innocent spouses can become victims of the justice system, almost without warning, if the government decides to seize your assets.
  • You could have tax trouble. Illegal income is still income. Unless your spouse paid their true taxes, expect to have to do some hard negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service.
  • You are probably being watched. During an investigation, expect your phones to be tapped. Friends may turn “state’s evidence” against you and you could be followed by investigators looking to leverage anything you say or know against you and your spouse.
  • You need your own defense attorney. Whether you stick by your spouse or decide to split due to the circumstances, you need to know your legal rights and what to do to protect yourself. Your spouse’s attorney is not the right person to advise you.

If your spouse is facing charges, find out what you need to know — and what you can do — to protect your interests during this time. An experienced attorney can help you.