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Know the Signs of Marital Financial Abuse

Thu 15th Feb, 2024 Family Law

Finances are one of the most contentious issues in many marriages and one of the most common reasons for divorce. After all, everyone handles money differently, and disagreements are bound to arise over finances in almost all marriages. While sharing finances with a spouse can often strengthen a marriage, it can also open an avenue for manipulation, exploitation, and abuse. In some cases, financial abuse can even be considered a form of domestic violence. Individuals who are experiencing marital financial abuse should consider speaking to a Stockton family law attorney to discuss their options. 

What Is Marital Financial Abuse? 

Abuse comes in many forms. While domestic violence in the popular imagination is typically thought of as physical or psychological abuse, it is also possible to abuse a spouse financially. Generally, marital financial abuse occurs when one spouse uses money to exercise power and control over the other spouse. It is difficult to know with precision how many people marital financial abuse affects, but, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, nearly one-third of contacts who were in abusive relationships reported experiencing financial abuse. And, unfortunately, that number has continued to climb year over year. 

Common Signs of Marital Financial Abuse 

Every couple’s financial situation is different, so marital financial abuse can take different forms in different relationships. Methods of marital financial abuse can also change over time as the couple’s finances change. Some of the most common signs of marital financial abuse include: 

  • Confiscating a spouse’s funds, including gaining access to their online accounts
  • Using a spouse’s assets for personal benefit
  • Tightly controlling how a spouse spends money, such as giving an allowance 
  • Making significant financial decisions without a spouse’s input 
  • Prohibiting a spouse from working so as to induce financial reliance 
  • Intercepting gifts or funds from public assistance 
  • Obsessively monitoring a spouse’s financial activity 
  • Preventing a spouse from having their own accounts 
  • Forcing a spouse into debt or ruining their credit 
  • Requiring a spouse to ask permission to buy things 
  • Reminding a spouse that they would have nothing or be homeless without them

Sometimes, marital financial abuse can even progress into post-marital financial abuse, such as when a spouse drags out the divorce process to increase its cost or refuses to pay alimony or child support

Legal Options for Those Experiencing Marital Financial Abuse

California family law provides broad protections for those experiencing domestic abuse. Financial abuse is considered a form of “coercive control, which the California Family Code defines as “controlling, regulating, or monitoring the other party’s movements, communications, daily behavior, finances, economic resources, or access to services.” In some cases, such control may form the basis of a protective order (i.e. restraining order) that can determine the use, possession, and control of a spouse’s property. 

Get Help From a Stockton Family Law Attorney 

One of the most effective ways to handle marital financial abuse is through the legal process. For more information about marital financial abuse, please contact a Stockton family law attorney at McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau by using our online form or calling us at 209-477-8171.

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