Thinking about getting a divorce because of financial infidelity? Looking to learn more about what financial abuse looks like in a marriage?
Financial abuse occurs in almost all cases of domestic violence and can take many forms. Most of the time, it starts out so small that you don’t even recognize that it’s happening and end up stuck. Whether you’re struggling financially or doing well economically, spousal financial abuse can affect you. This type of mistreatment looks different for every couple, so it’s important to educate yourself about the various types that exist.
What is Financial Abuse in a Marriage?
Financial abuse (also called financial infidelity or economic abuse) occurs in most controlling or assaultive relationships. It often involves the victim being cut off from their finances, which creates an unhealthy amount of dependency on the aggressor.
Other examples of financial abuse include your partner hiding their spending habits from you or having secret accounts. Here are some signs that you’re in a financially abusive marriage:
1. Your Spouse Controls the Finances
If your partner is the only one with access to your bank account, it could be a sign of financial abuse. At first, it may seem as though they’re doing you a favor by taking care of finances for you, but it can easily turn into a controlling and unhealthy situation.
In abusive situations, the aggressor will often ensure that the victim’s name isn’t on any accounts. That way, they can remain in complete control over their spouse.
2. They’ve Ruined Your Credit Score
Abusive partners often ruin their spouse’s credit score either intentionally or by negligence. Since your credit score is foundational to securing housing, a credit card, and even some jobs, this is a serious sign of abuse.
In some cases, a husband will open a line of credit in their wife’s name and forge her signature. If you suspect something is off with this, check your credit score to find out.
3. Financial Topics are Off-Limits
If you’re afraid to discuss financial topics with your spouse because of how they’ll react, you might be in a financially abusive situation.
In some cases, a controlling partner will respond so negatively to the subject of money that you’re scared to even bring it up. This is a sign of abuse or financial infidelity and can be grounds for divorce.
4. They Block You from Advancement
One common tactic abusers use is blocking their spouse from developing their career. Your spouse might be preventing you from pursuing higher education or even from working at all. Sometimes, an abusive spouse will create a circumstance that leads to you losing your job.
If your husband has pressured you into quitting your career or guilted you out of furthering your own interests, you might be in an abusive situation.
5. Intense Scrutiny for Spending Habits
If your partner insists upon keeping an eye on your spending habits and punishes you for spending more than they allow you to, this is a sign of abuse. In some cases, they might give you an “allowance” or demand that you show them receipts for every purchase you make. Some spouses will force their partner to hand over their paycheck as soon as they receive it and deny them access to their own money.
Other examples of financial abuse include hiding major purchases or debt and making major economic decisions without letting you know. Many instances of economic abuse occur because one partner has a severe gambling problem that they’re trying to hide.
Financially abusive partners will often cut their spouse off from having the means to develop their own savings and independence. This keeps the victim stuck in a bad situation where they don’t feel free to leave or don’t have the resources to do so.
How to Recover from Financial Abuse
If you’re in a physically unsafe situation, contact a domestic abuse hotline right away to help you decide the next step. Your situation might call for getting a restraining order if it involves physical violence. Here are some steps to begin taking once you’ve ensured that you’re physically safe:
If you need to protect yourself or recover from financial abuse in divorce, educating yourself about finances is a good place to start. Try to open a credit card in your name and build up your credit as much as possible. You can get the documents for this process sent to a trusted friend or family member.
Get Your Documents Together
Gather your important personal documents, such as your birth certificate, social security card, and tax forms. Put them in a safe location (preferably outside of the home you share with your partner). These documents will likely be necessary for filling out court papers and beginning divorce proceedings.
Start an Account
You can start a secret account so that you have resource to fall back on when you leave your spouse. Alternatively, you can stay with a friend or relative or ask someone you trust for a loan to get out of the situation.
Get Your Money Back
Even if you aren’t married to your abuser, you might be able to regain the money that they took from you. An attorney can help you figure out the best way to move ahead and the court can potentially give you access to what rightfully belongs to you.
Want to Seek Legal Action for Financial Abuse in a Divorce?
Economic abuse situations can be complex and difficult. Talk to a family law attorney as soon as you can to find more information about recovering from your situation or getting help with financial abuse. They can assist you with your options for breaking free and rebuilding your life.
If you’ve experienced financial abuse in your marriage by your husband, you may have access to spousal maintenance (also known as alimony). These payments can help you cover your rent and other costs of living while you get back on your feet. If you have kids, you might also receive child support payments once you begin a family court case.
To get in contact and receive help, give us a call at (480) 467-4348.