Abuse can manifest in multiple ways including a financially abusive spouse. Having a financially abusive spouse is both harmful and makes it harder for the victim to escape. In some instances, it can directly relate to domestic abuse. California Penal Code 13700 recognizes that victims of domestic abuse can share income or expenses with their abuser.
Examples of a spouse being financially abusive may include the following:
- Not allowing their spouse to work
- Spending their spouse’s money without permission
- Controlling how a spouse spends their money
- Scamming their spouse
- Hiding assets
Finances may play a big part in whether someone will leave their spouse. If the abuser takes complete control over the victim’s finances, it is more difficult for them to leave their abuser since they are financially dependent upon them.
Ways to Protect Finances When Leaving Financially Abusive Relationship
If there is a possibility that a spouse will try to take advantage of finances even after separating, it is essential to do what you can to protect them. Ideas for what to keep a copy of just in case may include:
- Social Security cards
- Birth certificate
- Insurance cards
- Tax returns
- Credit reports
- Car title
- Any valuable assets
Some actions to prevent an abuser from accessing your financial information may include changing passwords, changing PINs, and calling your bank to report their expenditures as fraud.
Filing Suit Against Abuser
If an abuser owes the victim money or has inflicted injury upon them, it is possible to file suit.
In disputes where an abuser took advantage of the victim’s finances and owed them money, it is possible to file a lawsuit. Plaintiffs may file a small claims case for anything under $10,000, a limited civil case for less than $25,000, and an unlimited civil case that involves disputes over an amount that exceeds $25,000. This type can also include disputes that do not involve money, such as civil restraining orders.
If the abuser has done more than financially abusing the victim, it is most likely that the victim will be able to recover compensatory damages. Compensatory damages compensate someone for suffering and losses. Some examples may include covering medical bills, lost wages, or property damages. These damages essentially compensate one for what they endured because of the injury.
For some, divorce may be the best option to leave a financially abusive spouse. While going through the divorce process, the court will divide property and debts. In California, the court will decide what community property is and what is separate property. Determination of community property may impact the splitting of debt.
Community property is what the parties owe or own together during the marriage. For example, if an individual creates an IRA and accumulates wealth during the union, the court would consider this community property.
Separate property is what each party owes or owns before the marriage and after separation. For example, if an individual bought a car before the union and sold it during, the court would likely deem this as separate property.
If the parties have a child together and separate, child support may be a big point of contention. Child support is an amount the court orders that a parent or both parents pay every month to help support the child. An abuser may deliberately not make their child support payments in some instances.
If an ex falls behind on child support payments, it is possible to take them to court, and in extreme circumstances, the judge may charge them with contempt of court and send them to jail. The judge will likely require your ex to make their late payments.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has been a victim of financial abuse, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.