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What is Financial Abuse and How can a CDFA® Help?

What is Financial Abuse and How can a CDFA® Help?

March 14, 2023

When it comes to divorce, finances are almost always - at the very least - a little messy. On the “lighter” side, you still need to separate everything even if you’re in agreement with most of it. On the “heavier” side, you might find yourself fighting over assets or even trying to work your way out of a financially abusive situation.

Physical and mental or emotional abuse are things that are commonly talked about, however, financial abuse might not be something you’re familiar with. Unfortunately, financial abuse can often lead to physical abuse and, according to Forbes, “The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that since 2016, financial abuse as a condition of a contact’s experience has grown 13% annually.”

Here’s what financial abuse looks like:

  • Your partner prevents you from working or limits your access to money/financial resources.
  • Your partner controls all the finances and makes all the major financial decisions without consulting you first.
  • You are not allowed to have a say in how money is spent within the household.
  • Your partner runs up debt in your name without your knowledge or consent.
  • Your partner gives you an allowance and restricts your access to joint accounts/assets.
  • You are not allowed to see joint account statements or view online banking activity.

Just as you would with any other abusive situation, it’s important to find trusted resources to guide you to a healthy resolution. Here are ways a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) can help:

  1. Identify financial abuse: A CDFA® can help identify instances of financial abuse in a marriage or relationship. They can review financial documents and transactions to look for signs of coercion or control.
  2. Assess financial damage: A CDFA® can help assess the financial damage caused by financial abuse, such as hidden assets or debts, and determine the impact on a victim's financial wellbeing.
  3. Develop a financial plan: A CDFA® can develop a financial plan to help a victim of financial abuse regain control of their finances. This can include budgeting, debt management, and asset protection strategies.
  4. Provide expert testimony: A CDFA® can provide expert testimony in legal proceedings, including divorce or custody cases, to help make a case for financial abuse and the impact it has had on the victim's financial situation.
  5. Work with attorneys: A CDFA® can work with attorneys to develop a legal strategy that addresses financial abuse and helps the victim achieve a fair settlement or judgment.

I realize that if you’re reading this piece and recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, you might be feeling alone and wondering what your first step should be. If you need an impartial person to discuss your finances with and who can help to connect you with other professionals, please reach out. My goal is to empower women financially in a safe and supportive environment.

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