There has been a long running story line on the Archers about the abusive relationship between Helen and Rob. This is currently going through the Courts in the fictional world of Ambridge, but articles have appeared in various parts of the press that explore other aspects of the story. The Spectator, had an interesting take on the Archers storyline, giving space to the concerns of the Citizens Advice Bureau and the SavvyWoman financial website.
“Financial abuse” is used to cover a whole range of coercive and controlling behaviours, from obsessively controlling what a partner spends, stealing from a partner, taking on debt in the partner’s, (or joint), names, restricting access to work or income that the partner is entitled to and denying access to a partner’s own money. 90% of CAB advisers say they have met and helped someone on the receiving end of these behaviours, so the issue is not insignificant.
Sarah Pennells, the founder of the savvywoman.co.uk website did some original research that suggests that more than one in ten women have had to pay off an ex-spouses or ex-partner’s debts following a relationship breakdown. Her research, back in 2015, was conducted by Opinium had a sample size of around 2,000 in total. (See the full report here; https://dnnkzuzd0vvrd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SWWomenMoneyReport2015FINAL.pdf).
A common theme in financial abuse is the miss-use of a joint account; from the savvywoman research it seems around a third of couples have just a joint account, (35%), a further third have a joint account and a separate account each, (32%) and the final third only have separate accounts, (31%).
For the 67% who have a joint account, the realisation that both of them are liable for the full amount of any debt and the account provider can pursue either or both for repayment should provide pause for thought!
No individual should enter into any financial arrangements without understanding the consequences; an overdraft on a joint account, mortgage or other loan in joint names or utility bills in joint names represent a financial risk in any relationship breakup. Creditors will chase the easiest person to contact, which can be very unfair.
If you are being pressured to sign a joint credit agreement, remember that from 29th December 2015, ‘coercive or controlling behaviour’ has become a criminal offence under the Serious Crimes Act 2015. The new law says that someone has committed an offence if they ‘repeatedly or continuously’ engage in behaviour towards another person that’s controlling or coercive and includes as an example;
“financial abuse including control of finances, such as only allowing a person a punitive allowance”
Home Office: Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate or Family Relationship, Statutory Guidance Framework
In general, remember that taxation and debt law favours individual accounting for many things, so only tie yourself financially where it is to your advantage. Ask us as IFAs to devise a plan to fit your circumstances.
If you would like to know more about how we can help you plan and realise your financial goals then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01223 792 196.
The information contained is for guidance only and does not constitute financial advice. It is based on our understanding of UK legislation, whether proposed or in force, and market practice at the time of writing. Levels, bases and reliefs from taxation may be subject to change. Accordingly, no responsibility can be assumed by Martin-Redman Partners its officers or employees, for any loss in connection with the content hereof and any such action or inaction.