Proving Financial Abuse in Divorce


Proving Financial Abuse in Divorce

Often, one spouse tries to use his/her financial advantage to force a more favorable divorce settlement. For example, a professional who earns a high income may try to pressure a mother who is raising the children to accept an unfair property division award, to not pursue alimony, and to agree to a low amount of child support. These actions by your spouse are unconscionable. There are ways experienced New Jersey divorce lawyers can help prove financial abuse in divorce, protect your finances during the negotiations, reveal fraud by your spouse, and help ensure your economic future after the divorce.

Proving Financial Abuse in Divorce: What is financial abuse?

Proving financial abuse in divorce proceedings is highly personal. Of course you need money for shelter, food, clothing, and daily living expenses. There are usually bills like mortgages and car loans that need to be paid. You need money to take care of your children. However, the amounts needed for these essentials can vary greatly depending on your financial situation.

Financial abuse can occur during different stages of your relationship and while proving financial abuse in divorce can be stressful, here are some things to consider:

  •         Financial abuse during the marriage. Some spouses are abusive even before you consider divorce. Abuse includes spouses who control the “family” finances or refuse to add your name to the checking and savings account.
  •         Financial abuse during the divorce is when a spouse refuses to pay some or all of these expenses and pressures you into agreeing to a divorce settlement that you would never agree to if you weren’t under economic pressure.
  •       Financial abuse after the divorce is final. Spouses may try to hide or devalue assets or use other financial dishonesty to prevent you from a just property division award, your right to alimony, and your right to child support. Spouses may claim their earnings have been significantly reduced after the divorce, to try to modify an alimony or child support order.

Proving Financial Abuse in Divorce

Our legal team has a long list of questions we ask to fully analyze your spouse’s financial status. Proving financial abuse in divorce requires us to demand the production of all relevant documents, including tax returns, profit and loss statements., retirement account records, bank account information, car titles, stocks and bonds, and many other assets. We’ll also examine if your spouse has any trusts, life insurance policies, brokerage accounts, or safe deposit boxes.

We work closely with accountants, private investigators, appraisers, and other financial professionals when we are working to prove financial abuse in divorce has happened. We leave no stone unturned to discover your spouse’s assets and debts and to prove his/her full income.

We work with you to assess your economic status and hardships. We’ll help identify all the financial records we need from you.

Proving Financial Abuse in Divorce: What conduct is considered financial abuse?

Types of financial abuse by a spouse include:

  •         Withholding the funds you need
  •         Preventing you from accessing your financial accounts
  •         Discouraging you from working
  •         Giving a stay-at-home spouse a limited allowance
  •         Making unilateral decisions about family finances
  •         Having a separate account for the spouse who makes more money
  •         Running up debts
  •         Accusing you of living lavishly and spending more than you should is a form of mental intimidation and is considered mental and financial abuse
  •         Having credit cards only in the name of the spouse who is paying the bulk of the bills – which can prevent you from obtaining good credit
  •         Hiding assets or moving assets so they’re hard to find
  •         Providing false or misleading financial information
  •         Transferring assets to family members – either as gifts or selling them below fair market value

Spouses who own a business often try to use the business to hide assets and divert income. We’ll examine your spouse’s business to determine if financial fraud or dishonesty is occurring. Investigating and proving financial abuse during divorce with business owners is an important part of obtaining a fair divorce settlement.

Some of the signs of dishonesty or financial abuse during divorce also include unexplained purchases or charges, numerous cash withdrawals, rerouting mail, and other actions.

Financial Abuse During Divorce

Seasoned divorce lawyers explain that spouses have the right to seek alimony “pendente lite.” This is a temporary alimony order (during the litigation process) which is specifically designed to help level the economic playing field so that a spouse in a strong financial position can’t take advantage of you. In New Jersey, an alimony pendente lite order requires you to file with the court a “Certification” document (an affidavit) and a “Case Information Statement,” which details your income, assets, and expenses. Your spouse will also be required to provide his/her financial information.

A judge can then issue an order requiring that the more financially successful spouse pay you a regular payment (weekly, biweekly, or monthly) during the divorce. This sum helps pay your mortgage, living expenses, and other bills. Proving financial abuse during divorce may be a lengthy process, and these measures help make sure both spouses have funds available for living expenses.

Our experienced lawyers will also help you create your own bank accounts while the divorce is pending. If your safety is in danger, we’ll explain what protective measures you can take, including seeking a restraining order and an order governing your access to and possession of the marital property – such as the right to stay in the marital home.

Financial Abuse After Divorce

To help ensure spouses with limited financial stability and resources are treated fairly, New Jersey provides for several divorce remedies to protect you from financial abuse after divorce:

  •         Equitable distribution. In New Jersey, all marital assets and property are divided fairly. Fairness includes the financial circumstances of the spouse, the contributions each spouse made to the marriage, including supporting the other spouse while he/she pursued a career, raising the children, being a homeworker, and other factors.
  •         Alimony. There are four different types depending on the length of the marriage, each spouse’s ability to earn a living, the educational and job experience levels of each spouse, and other factors.
  •         Child support. This sum is based on the income of each spouse. This means that normally, the spouse with the higher income will be ordered to pay the other spouse a regular payment for the support of your kids.

At DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law, our lawyers understand how poor finances can prevent you from breathing, let alone obtaining your just share. We review your financial status, seek temporary orders to ensure divorce negotiations are just, and demand full accountability for all financial information you need to avoid financial abuse in your divorce settlement, and to secure new life after your divorce is final. To speak with a strong, caring divorce lawyer, call us at 908-691-2104 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment to discuss how you can prove financial abuse in divorce.

Rosanne S. DeTorres
Ms. DeTorres is the managing partner and co-founder of DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law. She is also only one of 150 attorneys in the State of NJ that is certified by the NJ Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. Ms. DeTorres graduated...
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