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What is Financial Abuse?

I was recently quoted in a story I’m married to a control freak who is not sharing our stimulus payment. What can I do? Basically, the focus of the article is how to handle a situation when one spouse refuses to share coronavirus stimulus money with the other. While the situation is unique to the current crisis, the problem of a financially controlling spouse is a common issue. This is often called financial abuse.

Domestic violence and abuse are all about control. A symptom of domestic violence could certainly include financial abuse. A spouse may be financially abusing his or her partner by:

1. Hiding money
2. Limiting access to money
3. Dictating the expenditure of money
4. Questioning the expenditure of every dollar

As I say in the article, “When one spouse is financially controlling, it can have a devastating impact on a marriage. When there are financial issues and control issues, stimulus checks or tax refunds become just another way to exert power and dominance where one spouse unilaterally seizes the money for themselves and does not share it.” Again, stimulus check and tax refunds are specific examples. If you experience other examples, you are probably in a financially abusive relationship, if not worse.

What should you do?

The most important thing that I recommend is that you educate yourself. Here is a checklist of items that you should learn about regarding household finances:

1. Sources of income
2. Accounts – checking, savings, securities, etc.
3. Expenses
4. Credit card statements
5. Tax documents and returns

The other thing that I recommend is to educate yourself on domestic violence. Learn what domestic violence is and is not. Understand the cycle of domestic violence. Failure to do so may cause the cycle to repeat itself over and over again. If your spouse refuses to work with you on money, you can break the cycle of abuse.

Financial abuse is a real problem. However, as large as a problem it is, it may be part of even a bigger problem. Therefore, please contact me if you need assistance with related issues or have other family law questions.

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