How to Prepare Your Finances to Leave an Abusive Relationship

If you are in an abusive marriage, you may not know where to turn or what to do. Abuse comes in many forms, and financial abuse is more common than you may think. If you’ve been the target of financial abuse, it can make it exceptionally difficult to gather your assets before you leave.

Financial abuse is likely not the only type of abuse you’ve experienced; it is often found in relationships where physical or emotional abuse also exists. In fact, of those who have suffered violence at the hands of a romantic partner, 98% have also endured financial abuse. However, the fear of unstable or inadequate finances can sometimes supersede fear of your own emotional or physical safety. A feeling of instability generally accompanies financial abuse; it can be such an overwhelming feeling that victims are unsure of where to turn. This guide will help you financially prepare yourself to leave an unhealthy marriage.

As an attorney, my experience is in retaining assets for my clients and helping them navigate the financial and emotional aspects of separation. However, your safety should always come first. If you are uncomfortable or feel unsafe following any of the following advice, consult someone who is knowledgeable about domestic violence before proceeding with these steps.

The Tactics of Financial Abusers  

Financial abusers regularly try to control their victim’s ability to acquire and use financial resources. This may mean you have been encouraged to not work or have been completely prevented from doing so. It can also mean you have limited access to bank accounts and financial resources, even if you earned the money yourself. All these abuse tactics are attempts to control someone and make it difficult to leave. Often times, these gaps in employment, unpaid debts, and low credit scores keep the victim in an abusive relationship simply due to fear of the unknown. Common fears amongst victims of financial abuse include:

  • Where will I live?
  • How will I find employment?
  • Can I afford the high interest rates I’m offered as a result of my poor credit score?
  • How can I financially support my children until I start getting paychecks?
  • Will I need to prioritize my basic necessities and give some up to survive?

If you are in an unhealthy marriage and have found the strength within to leave, you’ve already overcome your biggest hurdle. A brighter future is ahead, and you will find support from friends, family, and community members at every turn.

Preparing to Leave an Abusive Spouse  

Before making any changes to your finances, consult a victim advocate. The role of an advocate is to provide information to anyone who is dealing with domestic violence, including helping victims who are planning to leave an abusive marriage. They can help you find housing, transportation, and financial assistance when you leave your relationship. Someone who is trained as a victim advocate will have had extensive safety training, so he or she can help you make safe decisions regarding your finances. There are many online resources for finding your own advocate.

After you’ve consulted a victim advocate, you should begin to save as much money as possible. Whether it’s through a job, some kind of lump sum (like a tax return), or another source of income, having savings set aside when you leave will help ease the financial burden.

You should keep this money in your own bank account–one to which your spouse doesn’t have access. If you work, see if you can have part of your wages directly deposited into your new bank account. You may be able to adjust your tax exemptions and get more money each paycheck; you can deposit the difference in your personal account.

As you’re preparing your savings, make sure to keep any important financial documents – including any you can find from the past several years. This could include tax returns, paystubs, car titles, and more.

Finally, consult several divorce lawyers prior to leaving your spouse. A consultation is the perfect time to get a feel for whether you feel comfortable with the attorney and learn more about how their legal experience applies to your own case. Find an attorney who will fight to help you retain all the assets you need to start rebuilding your finances.

Rebuilding Your Finances After Leaving Your Spouse

The first financial move you’ll want to make once you’re over the hurdle of leaving your marriage is to review your finances, including your income and expenses. You may need a new job to pay for your new housing situation, for example, or it may be wise to get a second part-time job to build some savings.

You can also take time during the divorce to familiarize yourself with your credit report and resolve any debts that accrued. If you haven’t been privy to financial information for years, it’s possible your spouse has been hiding both income and debt from you. By creating a budget that addresses your monthly income, bills, and unpaid debts, you’ll put yourself on the path to financial security and  freedom.

Once you’ve safely left your marriage, it may be necessary to obtain a harassment restraining order or an order of protection against your spouse. A domestic violence lawyer can help you support yourself and your children by negotiating and litigating these legal protections. Consult an attorney if you feel your situation requires either of these orders.

Finally, a financial planner can be a tremendous help when you’re getting back on your feet. While a professional would be ideal, not everyone can afford it. If you’d like the benefits of financial knowledge without the price tag, you can use online resources, books, and even community education classes to learn more about handling your own finances.

About the Author   

Allison Maxim is a collaborative attorney St. Paul MN whose family law firm is Maxim Law PLLC. Allison believes strongly in the benefits of mindfulness in family law. Her background in psychology has given her a greater awareness of and empathy for the difficult situations faced by her family law and divorce clients.    

Article Summary 

Financial abuse is a powerful force keeping many victims in unhealthy relationships. This guide outlines how a victim can prepare his or her finances for long-term prosperity when faced with leaving an abusive relationship. It offers actionable steps to follow both before and after leaving an abusive spouse.

Why To Do Nothing May Be The Right Course Of Action

Sometimes the best course of action is to Do Nothing

In divorce we are spinning our wheels and often going nowhere. It is hard to stay focused with so much going on during proceedings. Our brains are on overload and our bodies are exhausted. What is the antidote to this craziness? Step back and Do Nothing. Having a block of time to do whatever you fancy is the way to recharge your batteries.   This resets your mind and body, so you can tackle the tasks, such as negotiating the split of marital assets.

Effects of Stress

Stress increases the risk of cardiovascular events and hormones such as cortisol, are released. This can cause headaches, gastrointestinal issues and for some of us, brain fog. Making decisions can be overwhelming. The Mayo Clinic states “Taking time to rest and relax with no particular goals can help reduce stress and bring a sense of calm and control.” Downtime allows the brain to process information which has been received. The subconscious mind can put together new ideas to solve the complex issues that come with divorce. Having downtime increases creativity. Artists and writers often have unstructured periods to let their minds wander. While seemingly doing nothing, creative concepts are bubbling up to the surface,

Think about when you were a child and had lazy days doing nothing. Most likely you were relaxed and enjoyed life. Bring this feeling into your present situation. I was surprised to see a children’s book in our local bookstore titled “Do Nothing.” A few adults were picking it up and reading it.

People may mistake taking downtime as not being productive. It is the opposite, as one’s body and mind are being recharged, like our electronic devices. Consider leaving gaps in your schedule to chill out or do a favorite activity. Give yourself permission to nap, read a book, a stroll in a leafy park, or whatever is pleasurable. This can be like a mini vacation which is rejuvenating.

A young adult whom I take care of one mooning a week, introduced me to this concept. He has cerebral palsy and can only string several words together at a time. I ask him what he would like to do and often it is basketball.   On a regular basis, this young adult’s reply also is “Do Nothing.” We might sit in his lovely patio and listen to the various bird calls. Or possibly take a walk and look at flower filled gardens. I was amazed at how refreshed I became after following his directive to Do Nothing. As I began to practice this, I started to be less frazzled. I am calm in my new job and less stressed overall. My divorce would have been smoother if I had known the secret that it is okay to Do Nothing at times.

Please read more   https://www.divorcemag.com/blog/taking-a-break-from-your-divorce/

Teaching Children About Self-Care

Teaching Kids About Self-Care Childhood is a time of joy, growth and new adventures. Anything is possible, and there is a lifetime ahead of wonders that we can only imagine for our little ones. As they grow, the future begins to solidify itself. Goals become clearer, new responsibilities are taken on, and they begin the process of developing into who they will be as adults.

Through this process, we parents, teach them many things. But are we neglecting a critical lesson? Are we teaching our children how to engage in self-care?

The World Our Children Live In Is Stressful

A landmark study done by the National Surveys On Drug Use and Health found in 2016 that depression in teens was on the rise. Whether that is because there really is a rising number, or if we are just better tracking the phenomenon, is unknown.However, given that experts agree that teen stress now rivals that of adults, it is at least clear that something needs to be done.

Once you have seen the signs of depression in your child, one of the simplest ways to help reduce the risk in your own children is to teach them the value of self-care. Here are some ways to guide them to do just that.

Set Aside Some Off Time

By “off time” that means completely off of everything. No phones, no computer, no TV, no screens at all. No responsibilities, either. Take out a chunk out of every day for everyone to just relax and do something unplugged they enjoy. Maybe that is taking a long bath, or playing some basketball, or settling in with a book.

Have Family Dinners

Did you know that something as simple as sitting down for a meal with your family can wash away a bad day? Maybe it won’t be dinner, maybe it will be breakfast, or lunch, or even just something you do on the weekends. But having that time together to unwind as a family and talk about the day or week over delicious food is perfect self-care for everyone and a great example to set for your children.

Teach Your Children To Meditate

Meditation is not a difficult skill to acquire, even for young children. All it takes is breathing and a conscious calming of the mind. Learning to stop, breath and clear the head is a valuable coping method that can help your child through many difficult situations they may face in life.

Encourage Them To Drop Something

Is your teen overwhelmed? Are they taking on too many extracurriculars, trying to juggle a job on top of keeping perfect grades or just struggling to stay above water? Sometimes they just need you to sit them down and tell them that it is alright to drop a responsibility. It is for their own health.

By both modeling these things and directly teaching your children about self-care, you can help your teen learn how to take care of themselves well into adulthood.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter