Financial Abuse in a Marriage: Know Your Rights

When one person lives in fear of another, if resources aren’t shared fairly, and threats are involved, it’s usually abuse of some form or another. Any kind of abuse tends to have similar characteristics of control, threat, secrets, fueled by fear of one partner from another. Extreme financial dependence is quite common in society today and can be a facilitating factor in financial abuse.

As hard as it is to believe, people caught in this kind of family structure often do not identify the behavior as abnormal, much less recognize it as abuse. If you, or someone you know, live in an extremely controlling lifestyle situation, you will likely be relieved to discover that the threatening statements by your partner likely have no basis in law.

Given the combination of characteristics of control, threats, secrecy, and fear, you may find it hard to imagine that you have real options other than to endure your situation. By contacting a knowledgeable Bergen County family law attorney, you can take a first proactive step towards relief and freedom from these difficult circumstances. Speaking to an attorney can provide solid clarifications regarding some of the routine statements you might hear from your partner or spouse. Your attorney can help you protect yourself and your children, and normalize your family life.

Ways To Recognize Financial Abuse Advice From Fort Lee Attorneys

If it’s hard to recognize if your spouse or partner may be exerting abusive financial control over you (or someone you know) here is a checklist of possible signs, he/she…:

  • Controls how all of your family’s money is spent and lashes out with verbal and/or physical aggression when questioned,
  • Denies you access to joint accounts or has accounts titled in their name only,
  • Forbids you from working,
  • Sabotages your work or employment opportunities by stalking or harassing you at your workplace or physically batters you before important meetings or interviews,
  • Withholds money or gives you “an allowance,”
  • Demands to see receipts to monitor your spending,
  • Runs up large amounts of debt on joint credit card accounts,
  • Withholds funds for you and your children to obtain basic needs such as food and medicine, and
  • Opens credit card accounts in your name without your knowledge or permission.

First-Next Steps In Bergen County Suspected Financial Abuse From Family Lawyers

Here’s some more enlightening news: Family Courts are most often on the victim’s side. If you believe that you may be in a financially abusive relationship and decide to take the next steps, you can go to your local family court to ask for temporary alimony and temporary child support. Filing for divorce is not required to get alimony. You will need to explain your situation to the judge, including why you have left your spouse and your limited access to money.

An alimony award can help you maintain your same standard of living or pay for other costs you may need to achieve financial independence, such as paying to attend a school or for job training. You can also request other assistance from the court, for example, a temporary restraining order. Finally, you have options to ask the judge to order your abuser to pay your legal fees, including the cost of an attorney to represent you.

3 Tips As You Investigate Moving Forward

Help is available 24/7 by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.

  • Make your exit plan. Organize important financial and personal documents such as bank statements, birth and marriage certificates, passports, etc. Store these with friends or family or in another secret, safe location outside of your home. These documents can be helpful when filling out court papers.
  • Speak out. Have a frank conversation with a close friend or trusted relative and ask how they can help in any way, from a loan for food and clothing to a safe place to stay.
  • Create an emergency fund. If you have no money, try to be creative. One client saved by cashing in grocery store coupons after paying; another found an online job that paid her in a PayPal account that she kept private.

Contact A Bergen County Family Lawyer Today

At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients to understand and protect their legal rights before, during, and after the divorce process in towns across New Jersey and Bergen County, including Hackensack, Ridgewood, Paramus, Teaneck, and Fort Lee. To speak with our team of divorce lawyers today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your concerns about your divorce, please contact us online, or through our Hackensack, NJ office at (201) 397-1750.

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