No spouse should ever be subjected to any type of abuse in the marriage. While society often thinks of abuse in terms of physical signs, there are other types of abuse that may not be as obvious. One of them is financial abuse. It may not cause physical pain or scars, but it is degrading and upsetting nonetheless. It may also occur alongside other types of abuse.
Domestic violence can destroy a spouse's feelings of physical safety, and closely related financial abuse makes it difficult for a them to break away from the control of their spouse. To give readers a better understanding recognizing a financially abusive spouse, our California divorce attorneys are providing an overview below.
In simple terms, financial abuse is using money and other financial tools to gain control of someone. An abusive spouse will often give their spouse a small allowance or obtain new credit cards in their spouse's name and then ruin their credit by not making payments.
Financial abuse is often one the main reasons a spouse will make the decision to stay or go back into an abusive relationship. The abusive partner will often limit their spouse's ability to save or create some type of financial independence. In California, financially abusive spouses are common and some research studies have shown that most domestic violence cases also involve some form of financial abuse.
A financially abuse spouse will attempt to control their spouse's ability to acquire or maintain financial resources, and are often prevented from maintaining employment. Any money they have on their own is often restricted or even stolen and it's rare for the abused spouse to have complete access to money.
There are many different forms of financial abuse. In some cases, the abusive partner will use discreet tactics such as manipulation while others use overt acts and intimidation. However, regardless of the form of financial abuse, the primary goal is always the same. The abusive spouse wants to gain all the power and have complete control of the relationship. It's to keep the spouse trapped in an abusive relationship
If you are being financially abused, you will want to contact a Los Angeles family law attorney to learn about your options and determine the best way to move forward. You can make and execute a plan to leave your marriage.
What is Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse occurs in 99 percent of all abusive relationships, according to the Center for Financial Security. There's a good chance that if someone is suffering financial abuse, they are also suffering at least one other type of abuse.
When one spouse controls how and when the other spouse spends money against their will, financial abuse is occurring. This can make it extremely difficult for the abused spouse to leave the relationship. Like other types of abuse, financial abuse typically starts with small actions and becomes more controlling as time goes on. Eventually, the abusing spouse could be in complete financial control of the victim.
Through this type of abuse, the abuser can control much of the victim's life. They control their emotions, what they have, and what they do. Money is a significant feature of an abuser, and they tend to consider all the money earned in the course of the marriage as their own and not belonging to them both.
Usually, the abuser in the relationship takes money actions regarding money in the relationship. Examples of financial abuse include:
- Limiting access to money or controlling your spending
- Interfering with your job
- Demanding that you not be employed
- Ruining your credit
- Using your assets for their personal benefit without asking
- Taking cash or using credit cards without permission
- Expecting you to pay for their bills or their obligations
- Intercepting or opening your bank statements and other financial records
- Making significant financial decisions without your input
- Refusing to collaborate on finances
- Making threats to cut you off financially when you disagree
- Forcing you to sign financial documents without explanations
- Withholding money from the victim when they require money to purchase food for the children or essential medications
- Forcing the victim to commit financial fraud
Impact of a Financially Abusive Spouse
The impact of financial abuse in a relationship are frequently often devastating. The abused spouse feels inadequate because of emotional stress associated with the financial abuse. They often can't lead a normal life because they don't have access to money.
They are often vulnerable to physical abuse. They are unable to make future plans because they have no access to money, assets, or credit cards. They can't leave the abusive relationship because they can't afford other housing.
For abused spouses who find a way to leave the abusive situation, they will find it difficult to find housing or employment because their credit was ruined and they have bad employment history.
This means they are unable to establish independence and long-term security. There are many situations where the abused spouse will stay or return to their abuser over concerns about financial stability.
Can a Family Law Attorney Help Victims of Financial Abuse?
Trying to dissolve your marriage from a financially abusive spouse can be extremely stressful. Those guilty of financial abuse can continue some of their same behaviors well into divorce proceedings. They may use their wealth to hire a high-powered attorney, convincing them that they are, in fact, the victim, and you are the crazy spouse.
An experienced Los Angeles family law lawyer can help you if you are the victim of financial abuse. They can help you file for temporary spousal support and seek it long-term in your divorce.
If you need to get a restraining order against your spouse, they can help with that step. You may also want to work with domestic violence counselors and other professionals to ensure your safety and that your needs are met.
Divorce is often a traumatic time in any circumstances, and financial abuse only confounds matters. If you are a victim or survivor of financial abuse and you're getting a divorce, obtain financial documents regarding your assets and debts before leaving and hire an attorney as soon as possible to help protect your interests.
If you do not gather critical financial documents before leaving, your spouse could hide or destroy them in an effort to continue to exert financial control and keep more assets in the divorce.
Contact a Los Angeles Family Law Attorney for Help
While you may feel as if there is no hope, there is a way out of your financially abusive marriage. A compassionate family law lawyer in Los Angeles can help you find your way out and hold your spouse accountable.
If your spouse refuses to financially cooperate in the divorce process, your attorney can seek a subpoena for necessary documents or send interrogatories, and if necessary, you can seek monetary sanctions against them or file a contempt action, which could lead to jail time. Ready to leave your financially abusive marriage? Contact our office to review the details of your situation and legal options.
Furman & Zavatsky are experienced Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys located at 15821 Ventura Blvd #690 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (818) 528-3471.