Every marriage has its complexities, and yours is no exception. Unfortunately, what makes your marriage complex is the control your spouse has over you. If you are the victim of physical or emotional abuse from your spouse, you may also be the victim of financial abuse. Many spouses are not aware of the control their partners have over them financially until they try to leave the marriage.
One way in which a spouse can manage the actions of a partner is to prevent the partner from having any financial freedom within the marriage. Without access to money or earning power, a spouse has few alternatives for a future outside the relationship. If you find yourself in this situation and plan to divorce your controlling spouse, you would do well to seek experienced legal assistance.
What does financial abuse look like?
Financial abuse can be very subtle and difficult to recognize from within a marriage. In fact, you may have been grateful that your spouse handled the bills and managed the money, even if it meant you seldom had cash of your own to spend. However, you may now understand the reasons for your spouse’s careful rein on the household finances, leaving you few options for breaking free. Some ways in which a spouse may commit financial abuse include these:
- Reminding you that everything you own belongs to your spouse, and that if you leave, you will have nothing
- Opening credit cards in your name without your knowledge or permission
- Intentionally damaging your credit to prevent you from gaining financial freedom
- Requiring you to request money for necessities or demanding an accounting of what you spend
- Criticizing or punishing you for spending money
- Demanding access to your bank accounts in order to monitor your finances
- Preventing you from working, or sabotaging you at your job
Even if yours is the main income for the family, you may have little to no access to that money. While it is not unusual in healthy marriages for spouses to have access to each other’s accounts and money, the key is whether you feel threatened or fear punishment for financial actions such as spending or withdrawing money. An abusive spouse makes the decisions about when you can spend in order to control your presence in the marriage.
Financial abuse may be related to other forms of domestic abuse, any of which can cause long-term harm to you and any children you may have. If you fear seeking a divorce because of the financial control your spouse has, you may think you have no options. However, by seeking the counsel of a Georgia attorney skilled in complex divorces, you may find answers and guidance toward a healthier, safer future.