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About Abuse

Financial Abuse

Updated: February 24, 2021

What are some financial protections I can take if I am getting to ready to leave an abusive relationship?

If you are trying to leave an abusive relationship, it can be important to take your personal and financial records with you, either copies or the originals if it’s safe to take those. Some things you may want to keep a copy of include:

  • birth certificates and Social Security cards for your whole family;
  • insurance cards for your whole family;
  • copies of your checking account, savings account, and credit card numbers;
  • copies of any stock or mutual fund records;
  • loan/mortgage information;
  • your most recent credit report;
  • tax returns for the past two years;
  • car title;
  • deed to your house or your rental lease;
  • retirement plan statements; and
  • photos of your family’s most valuable assets (e.g., nice cars, expensive jewelry, anything you think is worth a fair amount of money).

If you may be going through a divorce or child support case, you may also want to try to take copies of the following:

  • how much the abuser earns, including salary, bonuses, money s/he gets from any rental properties, which may be in the prior year’s tax return;
  • how much money is in all accounts: savings, checking, investments, retirement accounts; and
  • how much money is owed on credit cards, the mortgage, car, etc.

Who is responsible for the debt after we get divorced?

As a part of a divorce, debt that was built up during a marriage is usually split between the spouses, though not necessarily equally. What usually happens is that the spouses will decide on a division of debt that they can both agree to or a judge will divide the debt looking at a number of different factors. Depending on your state’s law, it could be possible that if you can prove that your spouse racked up debt for things that only benefited him/her and had no benefit whatsoever on the household, the judge might agree that s/he is the only person responsible for those debts. To figure out what your state’s laws say about the division of debt, and to find out about how the debt in your marriage might be divided in a divorce, we suggest that you talk to a lawyer. Go to our Finding a Lawyer page to try to locate a divorce lawyer in your state.

For general info on divorce in your state, but not specifically about marital debt, read about Divorce on WomensLaw.org.