Preparing for Divorce After Financial Abuse in Marriage
Financial abuse in marriage can have devastating and lasting impacts on an individual’s health and wellbeing, even after filing for divorce. Sadly, this form of marital abuse can be difficult to detect, as abusive spouses often resort to tactics that are subtle and easily hidden in plain sight.
While no one deserves to experience the fear and powerlessness of being financially abused by a partner, there are various ways for survivors of financial abuse to prioritize their safety and recover financial independence after divorce. Keep reading to learn more about financial abuse in marriage and how it can impact divorce in Washington State.
Understanding Financial Abuse in Marriage
Financial abuse, also known as economic abuse, is defined as the illegal or otherwise inappropriate use of another person's financial resources without their knowledge or consent as a means to gain power and control in a relationship.
Financial abuse can take various forms in relationships. Common examples include:
- Blocking access to funds
- Controlling and monitoring financial activity
- Forcing a person to sign over their property or assets
- Physical or digital restrictions to credit cards or bank accounts
- Withholding passwords, security questions, or other account information
5 Ways to Reclaim Financial Independence After Divorce
Filing for divorce after marital abuse can empower victims to take back control and restore their financial independence. In addition to consulting with a trusted divorce attorney—preferably one with experience in similar cases involving domestic abuse—there are various steps that divorcees can take to recover their personal and economic freedoms.
Consider following these 5 best practices when preparing for divorce after financial or economic abuse:
1. Open new bank accounts separate from any shared accounts.
Opening separate bank accounts before a divorce is essential to restoring your economic freedom and peace of mind. By financially separating from their abusive spouse, victims of financial abuse can reduce the risk of being manipulated during the divorce and take the first step toward recovering control of their lives. Ensuring personal access to needed funds and resources is the most critical step to restoring your economic agency and reclaiming the financial independence that was taken from you.
2. Establish lines of credit in your name only.
It’s imperative to establish new lines of credit in your name before filing for divorce. This can protect you from any further abuse and ensure your access to loans and financial assistance (such as mortgages or student loans) that you may require later on.
Building credit can help you take back your independence; restore your peace of mind if and when unexpected expenses arise, such as vehicle repairs or medical bills; and prove that you are well-equipped to be financially independent after your divorce is finalized. This can help maximize the chance of securing a favorable outcome in court.
3. Create a budget to track expenses and monitor progress.
Creating a budget after financial abuse can be an invaluable way to regain control and achieve independence. A budget is a roadmap to financial recovery, as it can empower individuals to track and monitor expenses over time. Having an actionable plan regarding your financial responsibilities and management post-divorce can demonstrate initiative to the court and maximize the chance of obtaining a favorable divorce settlement.
Having a budget in place can ensure that any payments received from the divorce are used wisely and responsibly while preventing your ex-spouse from accessing or damaging any assets in your name. It can also help you identify potential areas of waste or inefficiency in your spending habits and allocate funds more effectively without incurring debt or creating additional financial hardships.
4. Collect any evidence of financial abuse that may be helpful.
Gathering evidence of spousal abuse is crucial when preparing for divorce. Medical records, important documentation, and other forms of evidence can be an effective way to not only prove that the abuse occurred, but to protect victims from being falsely accused or held accountable for any false or misleading statements made by the abusive spouse.
There are various types of evidence to prove financial abuse in family court, such as bank statements, credit card statements, tax returns, mortgage deeds, information pertaining to investments or savings accounts, loan documents, and other financial records. A trusted divorce lawyer can help gather sufficient evidence to fortify your case and support your claims in court.
5. Exercise your right to recover financial losses from your abuser.
It may be possible to recover some of the monetary losses you suffered as a result of financial abuse during the marriage. Your divorce lawyer can be an invaluable asset when it comes to recovering financial losses after financial abuse, as they can review all the options available to you, recommend the best legal course of action, and utilize their in-depth knowledge of family law to advocate on your behalf.
Experienced Divorce Lawyers
McKinley Irvin understands that every family is unique. Whether you require representation for an upcoming divorce or other family law dispute, our dedicated attorneys tailor effective legal solutions tailored to your personal needs.
Turn to a family law firm you can trust to keep your best interests at heart. Call 206-397-0399 to schedule an initial consultation.