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Economic abuse can be considered a form of domestic violence. Economic abuse can occur when one partner has total control over financial resources, withholds access to money, or attempts to prevent a victim or survivor from working and/or attending school to create financial dependence to control the victim's life and livelihood. Victims are typically coerced into choosing between staying in the abusive relationships or leaving and facing "poverty," according to their abuser. Economic abuse is one common reason victims stay in abusive relationships and sometimes the abuse can escalate to actual physical abuse of the victim or even the family's dog.
Economic abusers may prevent victims from accessing funds that should be jointly available. If you are married, all money earned during the marriage is considered "marital funds" even if your spouse tells you that it's "his money" or "her money." If your partner decides when and how you can use cash, bank accounts, or credit/debit cards, you could be the victim of economic abuse. If your partner forces you to give him or her money, ATM cards, or credit cards, you could be the victim of economic abuse. If your partner demands that your lease or mortgage or assets be in the partner's name only, you could be the victim of economic abuse. If your partner prevents you from accessing bank accounts that are either marital or in the other spouses name (and you're married), you could be the victim of economic abuse.
Sometimes the economic abuse can escalate when there are children involved. Many times the economically dominant spouse will coerce the victim into staying in the relationship by threatening to take away the victim's children because the victim "has no financial means'' without the abuser's help. Often times, the abuser will tell the victim "there is no way a judge will give you custody - you do not have a job." This could not be further from the truth. Maryland courts make custody decisions based on what they believe is in the best interests of the child - not based on the parent's ability to pay for their children.
Often times, economic abuse can escalate to physical abuse. The abuser knows they can get away with economically abusing their partner, so the partner will move on to further abuse of the victim. This can come in the form of actual physical violence against the victim, or even abuse of an animal. If you are the victim of domestic violence, we can help you in obtaining and defending Protective Orders in courts in most Maryland counties, including Montgomery County, where our Rockville office is conveniently located near the courthouse.