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Dealing with Financial Abuse in a Divorce

One of the areas of divorce that tend to be contentious is the finances. In many relationships, one spouse is in control of the bulk of the finances, even if the other spouse might help with paying some of the bills. Because one spouse tends to know more about the finances, they often try to use that advantage when they are getting divorced. Often times, this process may have started as financial abuse in marriage, unfortunately,  it can quickly transform into financial abuse in divorce.

Financial Abuse During and After the Divorce

For example, someone who earns a high income might try to get their spouse to take a property division award that they know to be unfair. Maybe they try to get them not to request spousal maintenance or tell them that they will give them the house for a greater amount of the other property—even if they know the house is not worth as much. There could be any number of unfair actions that a spouse might attempt to use on their ex.

Financial abuse could continue after the divorce is complete, too. Sometimes, a spouse might try to devalue or hide certain assets to prevent you from having your fair share. They might try to claim that their earnings are smaller than they are, so they can attempt to modify a support order, for example. There’s no limit to the things some people will do to try to protect their money.

Financial Abuse During Marriage

Keep in mind that financial abuse doesn’t just have to happen after a couple is in the process of getting divorced. In many cases, it happens during the marriage, as well. It doesn’t matter if you are a couple that is doing well or struggling financially. Abuse can still happen, and it can come in many forms.

It will often happen in marriages that also have other types of abuse, but not always. In cases where there are other forms of abuse, money is often used as a form of control. Finances are cut off from one of the spouses, which means they become entirely dependent on the other.

If your partner is the only one who has access to the bank account, it could be an indicator of financial abuse. They aren’t “taking care of the finances so you don’t have to worry about it” in most instances. They are hiding things and keeping you from having easy access to money. You are an adult, and you shouldn’t be put on an allowance. Ultimately, this tends to be about having more control over the other person.

Sometimes, the abusive partners will spend recklessly, which can end up ruining not only their credit but their spouse’s credit, as well. This means that it will be more difficult to get credit cards, loans, etc. in the future. Sometimes, one spouse might open up a credit card in the other spouse’s name and forge their signature.

Often, when there is financial abuse happening in a marriage, the controlling spouse will not discuss finances with their partner. They may become upset if you start to question them about money, and you might get to the point where you are afraid to talk about it at all.

Sometimes, a spouse will make major, expensive purchases without telling their spouse. They might have a gambling problem and they could be spending too much money on their addiction. You may end up in a substantial amount of debt without realizing it. Arizona is a community property state, which means that assets and debts alike are shared between the spouses. It can be difficult to prove that you shouldn’t be at fault for certain debts your ex ran up when the two of you were married.

In Arizona, you don’t need a reason to request a divorce. This is a no-fault state. Regardless of the types of problems that are occurring, though, financial abuse is a good reason to get a divorce sooner rather than later. If you believe you are a victim of financial abuse, gather what information you can, if you feel it is safe to do so, and then get out of the house. File for your divorce, and make it known to your attorney that you are a victim of financial abuse. If you don’t have enough finances to support yourself when you initially leave the home, ask if you can stay with a friend or family member until you can get back on your feet.

Keeping Your Finances Safe

If you are in a marriage where there is financial abuse or other types of abuse that are occurring, it’s time to get out. Typically, things are not going to get better without a lot of work. Most of the time, those people are not going to be willing to make changes, and the best thing you can do for your finances and your stress levels is to get out of the relationship as soon as possible.

Although proving financial abuse can be difficult, it is possible to do. Working with great attorneys and with financial experts familiar with divorce will help. You will want to make sure that you have all of the proper documents for your finances including bank account info, deeds, car titles, life insurance policies, etc. Your attorney can investigate to make sure that all of the financial information has been disclosed and discovered.

Don’t Let It Happen Again

One of the reasons that people end up being the victims of financial abuse before, during, or after divorce is because they don’t take initiative. They don’t want to deal with the finances, and this can end up putting them in a bad position later. This doesn’t mean that it’s your fault. The person who did it is to blame, and you are the victim.

However, it’s important to learn as much as possible about your finances going forward, so you don’t have any issues with someone trying to take advantage of you in the future. A little knowledge will go a long way in protecting you.

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