Imagine feeling that you are not able to leave your partner because your partner does not permit you to earn money or allow you access to any financial resources to re-home yourself. How do you leave with any possessions you may have, when you may not have access to a telephone, internet or car?

Economic abuse is a frighteningly common form of family violence. Yet such a prevalent form of family violence is often overlooked or not identified even by the people experiencing it, as a type of family violence.

What is economic abuse?

Economic abuse often begins in a subtle way and can continue after the parties have separated.

The Family Violence Protection Act (2008) defines economic abuse as the behaviour by one party that is coercive, deceptive or unreasonably controls another person, without their consent.

Economic abuse can take many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Restricting or controlling access to cash, bank accounts or cars;
  • Refusal to contribute to household or child-related expenses;
  • Coercing a partner to take on debt in their own name or jointly;
  • Creating debt in a partner’s name;
  • Disposing of a partner’s possessions without consent;
  • Preventing a partner from or seeking or being employed; or
  • Coercing a partner to sign any legal documents such as establishment of a business, power of attorney or guarantor.

Research has indicated that one in four women and one in 13 men, seek help for family violence. Of those seeking help, up to 90% are also affected by economic abuse.

Researchers for RMIT University analyzed data obtained in a 2012 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey and found that nearly 16% of all women and 7% of all men have experienced economic abuse in past or present relationships.

How can you seek assistance?

In the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia, consideration is given to a party who is a victim of family violence, including economic abuse, in both parenting and property matters.

Where family violence inflicted by one party to the other, has had a significant adverse impact on the victimized party, the court will take such considerations into account when assessing the financial contributions of the respective parties in property settlements.[1]

This issue was dealt with by ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ recently in the attached link.[2]

If you require assistance with a property or parenting matter involving economic abuse, please contact Rowan Skinner & Associates Lawyers. We are LIV Accredited family or divorce lawyers in Melbourne.

[1] Kennon v Kennon (1997) 22 Fam Lr 1

[2] https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/the-invisible-fight-how-women-survive-financial-abuse-20200527-p54wwr.html