January 2019 | Ariza Arif

The Family Law Act recognises financial abuse as a form of domestic and family violence. It is defined as:

unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet the reasonable living expenses of the family member, or his or her children, at a time when the family member is entirely or predominantly dependent on the person for financial support”.

Financial/economic abuse, similar to emotional and psychological abuse, can be difficult to recognise and it can affect anyone.

The general hallmarks of financial abuse are as follows:

  1. Restricting your access to money
  • Bank accounts are primarily controlled by the other party.
  • You have an allowance that only meets basic living standards.
  • You are financially dependent on the other party and do not have access to money.
  • Being made to feel that you are incapable of handling money, so the other party has to be in control of the finances.
  • Information of your joint finances are being withheld from you.
  • Being pressured and/or forced to sign financial or loan documents before you’ve had a chance to read them for yourself.
    • Abusers will commonly say “trust me, you don’t have to read it, just sign” or “if you love me, you will sign”.
  1. Tracking your spending
  • The other party requests receipts to see all of your spending behaviours.
  • Having to constantly ask for permission to spend money.
  • If you overspend, you feel there will be negative consequences.
  1. Restriction on work options for you
  • Not being allowed to apply for a job and if you do mention it to the other party, it’s met with “don’t worry, I earn enough for the both of us”.
  • If the other party does want you to work, typically it is not in the career you would choose for yourself.
  • The other party consistently prevents you from applying for job opportunities.
  1. The other party refuses to work
  • The other party refuses to work, yet incurs excessive debt in joint names, which ties you to them.
    • For example; the other party might ask you to get a personal loan in your name or credit cards solely in your name.

The underlying primary objective of financial abuse is control.

If you are experiencing financial/economic abuse or wish to seek your rights under the Family Law Act, then please contact our Family Law Team on (02) 9231 2466 or email us at admin@hflawyers.com.au