FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-03-28
Making a new financial start after a divorce is difficult, but if you are divorcing an abusive partner the creation of your own financial future is even more imperative.
Often, individuals suffering domestic abuse know little about family finances because the controlling partner may use money as a tool. It is difficult and potentially dangerous for the victim of abuse to ask the abusing partner about money because the victim often lives under the threat of violence. Therefore after the creation of a safety plan, a victim should setup avenues of communication.
Your first step in financial security is to secure private avenues of communication because it is important to have safe and secure correspondence with your attorney, counselor and financial institution. In order to do so, create your own private email account. Compose and check email on a computer the abuser will not have access to like a computer at a public library or internet cafe.
Next, secure your own phone by obtaining a new cellphone plan or a pay-as-you-go cellphone. Be aware of the possibility that spy software can be installed on computers and cellphones. Finally, apply for a post office box in only your name in order to safely receive mail. Be sure that only you and a trusted friend or relative are the only ones with a key.
After you obtain secure sources of communication, you should take steps to be in control of your own money by opening a bank account in your name. Do not open the account at a bank where you and your abusive spouse have a joint account. You should open the account elsewhere.
To further your financial means use the account to deposit paychecks, transfer any other available funds and to save. Next, to expand your financial options, obtain a credit card in your name. If qualifying for credit is difficult, explain the circumstances and be prepared to provide court orders to document the situation.
After you create new financial accounts, keep track of previous accounts. Change the passwords and PIN numbers to all of your previous accounts and choose letter and number combinations that are not easy to figure out. Remove your name from any shared account to avoid having to be responsible for debt you do not incur. Make copies of important documents like bank records, investment statements, 401k statements, insurance policies, marriage certificate and children's birth certificates. Place the copies in a safe place like a bank deposit box. Finally, do not sign any documents presented to you by your spouse.