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What is financial abuse in a marriage?

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Divorce

Marriage is supposed to be a partnership that’s built on trust and mutual support – but some relationships develop a power imbalance that can lead to different forms of abuse, including financial mistreatment.

Unlike physical abuse, financial abuse can be very subtle. Financial abuse involves controlling, manipulating or exploiting financial resources that should be shared to gain power and control within the relationship.

What are the symptoms of financial abuse?

Recognizing the signs of financial abuse is the first step toward breaking free. You might be a victim of financial abuse if your spouse:

  • Monopolizes the financial controls in your house, making all decisions
  • Limits your access to bank accounts, credit cards or financial information
  • Forbids you from working or actively sabotages your career goals
  • Monitors and criticizes every financial transaction you make, even small ones
  • Puts you on a strict budget, even though they do not seem to adhere to the same
  • Sabotages your credit by taking out credit cards or loans in your name
  • Threatens to withhold money that you need to pay for basic needs

In addition, a financially abusive spouse may try to cut off your access to family, friends and support networks that might either help you financially or support your goals for financial independence from your spouse.

What are the consequences of financial abuse?

The whole goal of these kinds of actions is to create a situation where you are financially dependent on your abuser, which makes it much more challenging to leave the relationship.

Fortunately, the courts are aware that this is a common situation. That’s why it is possible to request temporary financial support as part of a divorce petition. Your spouse can even be ordered to pay your reasonable legal bills related to the divorce.

If you’re feeling trapped in your marriage because your spouse has maneuvered you into a financially dependent position, it may be time to look deeper into your legal options. Seeking legal guidance quietly can help you to make informed decisions about your circumstances.