Economic Abuse and Financial Proceedings.

Economic and Financial abuse is endemic within abusive relationships and a potent tool for perpetrators of abuse to underpin their power and control. It serves to ensure survivors of abuse and their children remain vulnerable, dependent, TRAPPED!!!!

Legal proceedings are essential for victim-survivors to leave abusive partners and rebuild their lives independently.  

There is real evidence that the family court is an arena where economic abuse can be facilitated and perpetuated. Family courts are used by perpetrators of abuse within child arrangments to control and punish mothers. Similarly within Financial Proceedings, abusers can continue to control and punish women.

With a lack of access to legal aid victim survivors can accrue hugh debts to fund legal costs.

Perpetrators often bring repeated and unnecessary applications as a means of exerting (further) control and depleting victim-survivors’ resources.  

Perpetrators often fail to disclose assets in proceedings so that victim-survivors are left with financial settlements that unfairly disadvantage them.   

I have supported clients who know very little about their finances or indeed their ex’s income and finances. This has mostly been hidden by the abuser. Women often feel gullible, experience shame, blame themselves for being niave or simply stunned at how they were living a lie, under the pretence of a “supportive” marriage. This can take the form of the abuser stating that women do not have to worry about money or finances and that they will take responsibility for bills, mortgages, savings, investments, property and spending budgets.

What is the legal definition of economic abuse?

Additional provisions came into force as part of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021  and for the first time economic abuse was included within the definition of domestic abuse.

The report states that “economic abuse” means any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect on another person’s ability to:

  • acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or
  • obtain goods or services

Economic abuse can take a variety of forms, including restricting a party’s access to financial information and controlling how those financial resources are utilised.

How does economic abuse impact divorce?

Where economic abuse is a factor, getting full and frank financial disclosure from the opposing party may prove to be a battle where, after withholding financial details from their spouse for many years, they will almost certainly continue to attempt to conceal and control assets.

There are some legal tools to challenge inadequate disclosure, for example by raising a questionnaire, a schedule of deficiencies and in some cases obtaining a third-party disclosure order. There may also be a need to invite the court to draw negative inferences where the disclosure remains incomplete or questionable.

After the expense and effort of obtaining as clear and complete a picture of the parties’ respective financial positions as possible, to what extent will the abusive behaviour impact on the outcome at a Final Hearing?

Mostyn J outlines the four scenarios in which conduct may be considered in financial remedy cases in his judgment in OG v AG (Financial Remedies: Conduct) [2020] EWFC 52 as follows:

  1. Gross and obvious personal misconduct but only where there is a financial consequence. This will include economic misconduct provided the high evidential threshold is met;
  2. Add-back arguments where one party has ‘wantonly and recklessly dissipated assets’;
  3. Litigation misconduct which should be penalised in costs rather than affecting the substantive disposition;
  4. Drawing inferences over the extent of the asset base following a party’s failure to give full and frank disclosure.

Mostyn J adds that ‘Conduct should be taken into account not only where it is inequitable to disregard but only where its impact is financially measurable’.

We know that women feel like they have been kept in the dark, hoodwinked, decieved, swindled, mislead, fooled, misguided, duped, cheated and tricked.

We know that at the same time you are made out to be greedy, irresponsible with money, stupid, selfish, self-seeking, grasping, undeserving, and acting unfairly.

I could go on and on………………….and on……………………………..

It is not your fault. It never was. His headworking has always been designed as excuses to keep you from knowing and understanding your own economic and financial landscape.

Our McKenzie Friends, Mary and Gemma are here to support you during your journey through the family courts . We can assist and guide you through the landscape of financial proceedings and help you with your position and case.

We are specialists in supporting women affected by domestic abuse. who need to go through the family courts.