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Financial abuse as grounds for divorce in Illinois: what you need to know

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2022 | Divorce |

Financial abuse is a serious issue and can cause significant stress and hardship for those affected. Economic or financial abuse refers to any behavior used by an abuser to control someone’s access to money, banking accounts, and other forms of economic or financial resources. This may involve limiting how much money someone has access to, forcing them to depend on the abuser for their income and necessities, refusing to share household expenses, or otherwise restricting the person’s ability to provide for themselves financially. The state of Illinois recognizes financial abuse as a legal ground for divorce since financial abuse is a form of domestic violence.

Understanding financial abuse

Financial abuse is defined as the use of money and resources to control another person. It can take many forms, such as restricting access to bank accounts and credit cards, forcing the spouse to sign documents without understanding the contents, or making financial decisions without the spouse’s knowledge or consent. In addition, verbal or emotional abuse that has a financial consequence can also be considered financial abuse. For instance, when a spouse withholds money or forces their partner to go into debt to prove their love or loyalty, that is considered a form of financial abuse. 

Recognizing financial abuse

According to the American Psychological Association,  99% of domestic violence victims report some form of financial abuse. While physical and emotional abuse is more readily identifiable, financial abuse can be more difficult to spot. Financial abuse can entail any of the following:

  • Controlling all of the money in the relationship and refusing to share or give access to funds
  • Denying access to accounts or preventing a spouse from getting a job or furthering their education
  • Making unrealistic demands on how money is spent
  • Refusing to provide essential items, such as food and clothing
  • Making false claims about income or debt to manipulate the other person
  • Withholding or hiding assets

If you recognize any of these behaviors in your marriage, it is important to seek legal advice to protect your rights and interests. Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence, and it can lead to devastating consequences. If you are feeling threatened by your partner’s financial control, it may be time to consider divorce on the grounds of financial abuse.

Seeking a divorce on the grounds of financial abuse in Illinois

When filing for divorce based on financial abuse, there are several pieces of evidence you may need to provide. This could include bank statements, tax returns, copies of credit reports, emails, letters or other documents. You should also keep records of any instances where you were denied access to funds or denied your right to manage shared finances. It’s also important to have proof that your spouse was the one who committed the financial abuse. 

In addition, the court will want to see evidence that the financial abuse has been ongoing and has impacted your relationship in a significant way. Your lawyer may also present evidence of the emotional or physical harm you’ve suffered due to the financial abuse.