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Rebuilding After Financial Abuse

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Are you a victim of financial abuse? Learn how to recognize this form of domestic abuse and get the steps you need to break free.

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Rebuilding After Financial Abuse

  1. 1. Bedminster • Cranford • Freehold • Hackensack • Mount Laurel • Parsippany Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates YWCA/Elizabeth Public Library February 22, 2018
  2. 2. DISCLAIMER This presentation contains general information and does not constitute legal advice. Be sure to direct specific questions about your own situation to an attorney. 2
  3. 3. Family Law Expert Bari Z. Weinberger • Managing Partner at Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group. • Certified Matrimonial Attorney. • Author. • Frequent Keynote Speaker. • As seen in various media: Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, Forbes, CBS, ABC, Access Hollywood, News Channel 12, Huffington Post, The Star Ledger, Divorce Magazine. • Published in New Jersey Lawyer Magazine, New Jersey Law Journal, Matrimonial Strategist, and more. “Bari was wonderful!! She always explained the law thoroughly. I understood every part of the process. She was supportive, smart & professional. Everyone said “You need a shark”, I said “I need a stingray”. Bari has an amazing combination of elegance & intelligence & can fight the fight…” Tara M. 3 Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates
  4. 4. Financial abuse is a powerful control tactic abusers use to keep their victims trapped in the abusive relationship and isolated from friends and family. 4
  5. 5. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Abusers often tightly monitor and restrict their partner’s spending. Victims live a controlled life where they have been purposely put into a position of dependence, making it extremely difficult to break free. Financial Abuse: An Invisible Weapon Financial abuse occurs when an abusive partner prevents their spouse from acquiring, using or maintaining financial resources. Abusers isolate their victims by preventing them from working or accessing a bank, credit card or transportation. 5
  6. 6. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Your paycheck is on direct deposit to an account only your partner has access to. Credit cards in your name have been maxed out — and you never charged a single item to them. You get an allowance — and it’s never enough, even for basics like food for you and your kids. Every penny you spend must be accounted for — or you will pay the price. Your partner calls and shows up at your work so much that you are fired. You fantasize about leaving, but feel trapped because you don’t even have enough money for a bus ticket. This is financial abuse. 6
  7. 7. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Financial abuse coincides with other forms of domestic violence: • Physical assault • Sexual assault • Emotional or psychological abuse Virtually all — 99 percent — of domestic violence cases are affected by some form of financial abuse. [Source: Purple Purse/Allstate] 7
  8. 8. Recognizing Signs of Financial Abuse 8
  9. 9. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Are you or someone you know at risk for financial abuse? A spouse or partner may be exerting abusive financial if he or she:  Controls how all of your family’s money is spent, forbidding your input.  Denies you access to joint accounts or has accounts titled in their name only.  Demands for you to turn over your paycheck.  Lashes out with verbal and/or physical aggression when questioned about this arrangement.  Gives you an allowance even when you earn your own money.  Demands to see receipts to monitor your spending.  Suspicions over why certain items were purchased trigger verbal and/or physical aggression. In their eyes, a new shirt might be proof of an affair. 9
  10. 10. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates More signs of financial abuse… 1 0  Withholds funds for you and your children to obtain basic needs such as food and medicine.  Runs up large amounts of debt on joint credit card accounts, ruining your credit.  Forbids you from working or sabotages your work or employment opportunities by stalking or harassing you at your workplace – or physically batters you prior to important meetings or interviews so you can’t go.  Opens credit card accounts in your name without your knowledge or permission.  Strange bills come in the mail with your name on them, but you are forbidden from opening them and/or threatened with violence if you do.  Falsifies IRS information provided to you to sign to hide tax inaccuracies or falsifications.
  11. 11. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Financial Abuse Is About Control Financial abuse results in victims feeling insecure and fearful about their ability to support themselves and their children should they ever attempt to leave their abuser. But here’s what every victim of any form of abuse needs to know: You can get out and get your children out. You can be safe. You can get the money you need to live. 1 1
  12. 12. 10 Steps to Break Free from Financial Abuse 12
  13. 13. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Make your exit plan. In the upheaval of leaving your abusive situation, an organized strategy is key for making your resolve stick. Download our free Domestic Violence Safety Plan to start gathering together important phone numbers, address and names of “safe people” to give you help and domestic violence shelters in your area that you can access in an emergency. Download your safety plan: http://bit.ly/dv-safety-plan 1 3
  14. 14. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Document your financial situation. Gather important financial and personal documents such as copies of bank statements that you are able to access, pay stubs, tax forms, birth and marriage certificates, etc. Store your Safety Plan and documents with trusted friends or family or in another secret, safe location outside of your home. Your documents will be helpful for filing in court. 1 4
  15. 15. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Create an emergency fund. Every week, one woman returned one item of food to the grocery store that she knew her husband didn’t like, so wouldn’t notice it was gone. The few dollars she saved up each week eventually added up to her bus ticket to freedom. You can also ask a close friend or trusted relative if they could help out in any way — from a monetary loan for food and clothing to a couch to sleep on. Keep money in a safe location. 1 5
  16. 16. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates File for temporary support. Victims may not realize they can petition the courts for temporary alimony and temporary child support. Alimony can help you maintain your same standard of living by paying for your rent, for example, or paying for other costs you may need to achieve financial independence, such as paying to attend school or for job training. Child support can help with costs related to your children’s needs such as food and clothing. You do not need to file for divorce to obtain temporary support and you do NOT need to communicate with your abuser each week/month to get access to the money. Make an appointment at a family law firm that offers free consultations. At your meeting, ask the lawyer provide you with information about how to apply for support. 1 6
  17. 17. Not married to your abuser? If your abuser is also your children’s parent, you can file for child support regardless of marital status. To access income that your partner forced you to deposit your paycheck, the courts can help you gain access to what is rightfully yours. Speak with an attorney about the best course to follow. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates 1 7
  18. 18. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Cut off access. If your abuser has been using a credit card issued only to you without your authorization, call your credit card companies and ask them to give you new account numbers. Change all your passwords for all your accounts, including your email, and all obvious financial accounts that are in your name. Be sure to replace with passwords that no one can easily hack. Source: Karin Price Mueller, founder of NJMoneyHelp.com and Bamboozled columnist for The Star-Ledger/NJ.com 1 8
  19. 19. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Assess your credit. Check your credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can do this once a year for free. If you find something that shouldn't be there, you can dispute the account. Consider putting a “credit freeze” on your reports. This would mean that no one without a PIN would be able to obtain a credit card or open loans in your name. If you personally decide to get new credit, you'll need the PIN, too, so keep it in a safe place. In New Jersey, this is free to do. Source: Karin Price Mueller, founder of NJMoneyHelp.com and Bamboozled columnist for The Star-Ledger/NJ.com 1 9
  20. 20. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Establish credit in your own name. If you have no credit card in your own name, apply for one, even if it has a very low limit to start. Make small purchases and pay them off religiously in order to build your credit. Having credit can be a lifeline in an emergency. If you do this before you leave, consider getting any correspondence sent to a family member’s address. Source: Karin Price Mueller, founder of NJMoneyHelp.com and Bamboozled columnist for The Star-Ledger/NJ.com 2 0
  21. 21. Apply for IRS Innocent Spouse Relief. A victim spouse may sign their taxes without knowing their abuser has provided the IRS with faulty or fraudulent information. If money is owed to the IRS, the victim may be able to claim Innocent Spouse Relief. • An “innocent spouse” is a taxpayer who did not know their spouse understated or underpaid their income tax liability. • If a taxpayer qualifies as an innocent spouse, the IRS may suspend all tax liability or only hold the innocent spouse responsible for their share of the tax bill. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates 2 1
  22. 22. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Help with employment and rental applications. If you need to submit a rental application or go through an employment background check, financial abuse can unfairly create a past that is difficult to explain. When you work with an attorney, you can give the attorney permission to be a point of contact for potential employers or landlords to explain your situation. This can be help in overcoming negative credit or lack of credit. 2 2
  23. 23. Applying for a NJ Restraining Order 23
  24. 24. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Obtaining a NJ Restraining Order Depending on your situation, you can request for the courts to grant you a temporary restraining order against your spouse or partner to prevent your abuser from contacting you anywhere, including at your job. (Printout available.) 2 4
  25. 25. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates Domestic Violence is the occurrence of one or more of the following acts committed against a victim: • Assault • Burglary • Criminal mischief • Criminal restraint • Terroristic threats • Criminal sexual contact • Criminal trespass • False imprisonment • Harassment • Kidnapping • Lewdness • Sexual assault • Stalking • Homicide 2 5
  26. 26. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates What can a restraining order do? The abuser can be ordered not to have any contact with you -- in person or by phone, at home or work, and elsewhere. The court can order the abuser to leave the house or apartment you share, even if it is in the abuser’s name. The court may order the abuser to pay for costs that resulted from the abuse, for example: household bills that are due right away, medical/dental treatment, moving expenses and loss of earnings. The judge can also make the abuser pay your attorney’s fees, and can make the abuser pay damages to you or other people that helped you or got hurt by the abuser. 2 6
  27. 27. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates A Guide for Domestic Violence Victims in New Jersey Free E-Book: www.WLG.com/dv 2 7
  28. 28. Safeguarding your future: your next steps 28
  29. 29. Rebuilding After Financial Abuse: A Workshop For Advocates 1. Make a Plan 2. Make an Exit 3. Get Support 4. Get Protection 5. Start Rebuilding! New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 572-SAFE (7233) 2 9
  30. 30. Bedminster • Cranford • Freehold • Hackensack • Mount Laurel • Parsippany WeinbergerLawGroup.com (888) 888-0919 S C H E D U L E A F R E E C O N F I D E N T I A L C O N S U L T A T I O N C O N T A C T U S

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