WHAT IS ECONOMIC ABUSE IN A MARRIAGE?
4th November 2020
Do you do any of these things:-
Preventing a partner from working or training;
Ensuring your partner's salary is paid into a joint bank account to which they do not have access;
Control/decide how money is spent, including what your partner can buy, closely examine their bank statements/receipts and expect them to justify all purchases;
Building up debt in your partner's name, sometimes without their knowledge;
Hold all or most of the family assets in your sole name and deny your partner information about the family finances.
If so, you could unknowingly be guilty of domestic abuse under the draft Domestic Abuse Bill currently going through Parliament
It is the first time economic or financial abuse has been included within the definition of domestic abuse
The impact of economic/financial abuse within divorce proceedings is wide
The abuser may face:-
1. An occupation order being made by the court requiring the abuser to vacate the family home immediately to pay the rent, mortgage or other outgoings on the property, as well as repair and maintenance costs.
2. A freezing order being made by the court preventing them dealing with assets in their name or under their control, including business assets and capital
3. Have an existing financial transaction set aside by the court
4. Have the court disregard a disposal of assets an make a financial order as if the assets are still owned by the abuser
5. Have their financial documentation trawled through with a fine comb by their partner's solicitor or worse a forensic accountant
6. Be sent to prison for failing to fully disclose their financial affairs on being ordered to do so by the court
7. Have the court draw unfavourable inferences from the lack of disclosure when making its order on how the assets are to be divided between the parties
8. Be ordered to pay their partner maintenance to meet their day to day living needs
9. Be ordered to pay their partners legal fees
The impact on the final divorce settlement terms are likely to include:-
1. If one party has not been permitted to work, then their earning capacity may be impacted, in both the short-term and the long-term, and this may be exacerbated by mental health difficulties resulting from the abuse.
2. Debts may have been accrued by the abuser in their partner's name which needs to be repaid and may affect their future credit-rating and mortgage capacity.
3. Receive a less favourable award than if economic abuse had not been present
4. Being ordered to pay a contribution towards their partner's legal costs for misconduct if they fail to cooperate, disclose and/or negotiate in the financial proceedings
If you find yourself being accused of economic abuse by your partner or at risk of being so at a future date should your relationship run into difficulties it is important to seek legal advice and support as early as possible to limit any impact this may have on the final financial settlement terms