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  • Writer's pictureLori Hammer

Unmasking the Grip: Recognizing and Navigating Financial Abuse in Family Law


Family Law resolutions offer opportunities to make a fresh start and improve your life. For help with your divorce, parentage, including child support and parenting time, prenuptial or postnuptial agreements in Chicago, call Angela Larimer at 773-370-0600 or email Angela at angela@larimerlawllc.com.


Financial abuse, often a hidden but insidious facet of domestic violence, can leave lasting scars beyond emotional pain. It manipulates and controls victims through their finances, stripping them of independence and security. Unfortunately, this abuse frequently lingers even after separation, impacting individuals navigating the complex world of family law.


Breaking the Silence: What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse goes beyond controlling spending habits. It's a systematic pattern of behavior aimed at gaining power and dominance through finances. Common tactics include:

  • Denying access to income: Withholding money, controlling bank accounts, or forcing partners to hand over their paychecks.

  • Forced debts: Racking up debts in the victim's name or forcing them to co-sign loans they cannot afford.

  • Sabotaging credit: Sabotaging a partner's credit score by maxing out cards or neglecting bills.

  • Economic isolation: Restricting access to money for basic necessities or preventing employment opportunities.

  • Unilateral financial decisions: Making significant financial decisions without the victim's consent or knowledge.

Recognizing the Signs: Is Financial Abuse Happening to You?

Financial abuse thrives in silence. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Do you feel constantly on edge about money?

  • Does your partner control your access to cash, credit cards, or bank accounts?

  • Are you pressured to justify every purchase, even for basic needs?

  • Do you live in fear of financial instability due to your partner's actions?

  • Has your credit score inexplicably declined?

  • Does your partner use money as a weapon to control your behavior or punish you? If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, you may be experiencing financial abuse.

Finding Your Voice: Legal Options for Victims

Financial abuse has legal consequences. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Gather evidence: Document abuse through bank statements, emails, texts, or witness testimonies.

  • Seek legal advice: A family law attorney can advise on legal options like restraining orders, asset protection measures, and spousal support modifications.

  • Connect with support services: Domestic violence shelters and financial hotlines offer resources and guidance.

  • Prioritize financial independence: Open a separate bank account, build your credit score, and explore independent income options.


Financial abuse is never the victim's fault. Remember, you have the right to live free from fear and control. By recognizing the signs, seeking legal advice, and utilizing available resources, you can break free from financial abuse and rebuild your life on your own terms.

This blog is a starting point. If you or someone you know is experiencing financial abuse, please reach out for help:

Together, we can raise awareness, support victims, and break the cycle of financial abuse.

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