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Financial abuse and divorce, part two

Earlier this week, we began a discussion of financial abuse and how it often makes it difficult for victims of domestic violence to leave an abusive marriage. Experts say that there is a strong correlation between physical and financial abuse, both of which can lead to long-term consequences for abuse victims.

But while financial abuse may create obstacles for a victim who wants to leave the marriage and file for divorce, it may not be impossible. There are several steps that victims can take to secure their finances and get to a place of relative financial stability in order to leave the abusive situation.

First, victims should get a post office box so you can receive mail without their spouse’s knowledge. Then, open new accounts in your name alone, such as a checking and savings account, credit cards, and retirement accounts. Try to transfer existing assets and begin diverting funds into those accounts, if possible, and change all of your PIN numbers to codes that are not easily identifiable.

Next, work on getting copies of all of your important paperwork, such as birth and marriage certificates, Social Security cards, bank statements, mortgage documents, and the like. Get a safe deposit box or other place outside of your home to keep these documents without your spouse’s knowledge.

Also, establish a “secret” e-mail account. If necessary, only access the account from a public place such as a library or print shop in case your spouse is monitoring your Internet use at home.

Most importantly, if you are the victim of financial or physical abuse, try to find help. There are several organizations in the Las Vegas area that can help victims of domestic violence leave their abusive relationships and start fresh.

Source: Forbes, “Divorce Advice For Physically And Financially Abused Women,” Jeff Landers, Sept. 21, 2011

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