People in domestic settings may be the victims of physical and or mental abuse. This may result in a domestic violence case being filed or in actual divorce litigation. However, one form of common abuse infrequently discussed is financial or economic abuse. Financial abuse occurs when one partner to the relationship exerts either financial control or coercion upon the other.
Oftentimes in a relationship one partner is in charge of all the household finances. This can be for ease or convenience. In a healthy relationship, the partner not in charge of the finances still has access to the accounts, is aware of how the money is spent, and has a say in the manner in which finances are handled. However, in dysfunctional relationships one person may control the household finances and not allow their partner access.
Financial or economic abuse can take different forms. One partner may be left in the dark as to all money related matters. One partner may give the other a limited allowance. They may insist that the other person detail how money is spent. They may not provide the other person enough funds for basic necessities. They may also completely conceal balances of bank accounts, investments, and the true extent of the marital estate. They may take out loans and credit cards in the other person’s name without consent. They may cause serious debt by refusing to pay credit card bills. They may refuse to divulge passwords or pin numbers of accounts to the other. Also, requests by the victim to better oneself by continued education are denied. The controlling party refuses to be monetarily responsible for any such expense. These problems cut across all economic strata as they are prevalent in high income households as well as being a lower income problem.
If you are going through marital difficulties, it is imperative for you to be fully aware of your financial situation and to understand whether or not you are being financially controlled. It is important that there be access to assets as well as financial documents and records. It is important to be able to monitor your partner’s spending to determine whether accounts are being depleted without the knowledge and/or consent of both parties. All too frequently, the domineering spouse is able to convince the other that a separation or divorce will result in financial ruin that will leave the victim without sufficient funds to adequately survive.
In one case, a controlling spouse persuaded his wife not to hire an attorney in the divorce case. He convinced her to sign a Property Settlement Agreement waiving her right to alimony without any financial disclosure. After the parties were divorced, The Law Office of Jeffrey W. Goldblatt then filed an appeal on the client’s behalf. Mr. Goldblatt was able to have the Agreement vacated by the Appellate Division. A substantial financial settlement was then obtained for the client as a result of Mr. Goldblatt’s efforts.
Financial abuse can be just as devastating as physical, emotional, or psychological abuse. You do not want to be in the position of discovering after the divorce proceedings are concluded that assets existed which were unreported or that “secret” bank accounts were opened by one party in the name of a trusted family member to hide the asset from the unsuspecting partner.
If you believe you are the victim of financial abuse, it is important to attempt to copy financial documents such as bank and investment statements and ownership documents. It is advisable to open up your own checking and or savings account. Remember that if accounts are in joint names you have the right to obtain information directly from the institution. If joint tax returns are prepared by a professional, you have the right to contact that individual and request documents as well as copies of tax returns.
Mr. Goldblatt has helped many individuals who found themselves in such circumstances in Middlesex and Monmouth counties as well as throughout the State of New Jersey. Removing yourself from an abusive situation may sound overwhelming. The number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline is (800) 700-7233 and the New Jersey hotline is 1 (800) 572-SAFE (7233). Another person who can help with the process is an experienced and caring attorney. Your attorney can help determine the current financial status. He or she can represent you in all Court proceedings to ensure the best possible outcome.
The Law Offices of Jeffrey W. Goldblatt have aggressively represented victims of abuse for over thirty five years. For further information please contact our offices at (732) 238-8700 or via text message (732) 820-7141. Please contact our office today for your free consultation.