Financial Abuse in Family Law

By Catriona Kilgallon, Consultant

AUSTRAC regulates certain business activities in the financial, bullion and gambling sectors. These activities are called designated services in the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act).

On 28 May 2020 AUSTRAC announced a change to the AML/CTF customer ID verification rule to help victims experiencing family and domestic violence by way of financial abuse and control. Under the new rule if a customer cannot produce their driver’s licence or birth certificate, or show a different address, banks and other regulated businesses can use alternative ways to verify their customer’s identity.

According to AUSTRAC’s press release, financial abuse is a form of family and domestic violence and will be experienced by over 2 million Australians over their life-time, with 63% of women experiencing financial stress being victims of financial abuse.

It can leave victims feeling vulnerable, isolated, depressed and anxious.

Some examples of financial abuse include:

  • Restricting access to bank accounts;
  • Providing cash only or an inadequate allowance and monitoring what they spend their money on;
  • Forbidding a partner to work or access benefits;
  • Withholding living expenses;
  • Redirecting their pay into other accounts;
  • Identity theft to secure credit;
  • Accessing credit cards or accounts without permission;

Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh said “When fleeing a violent situation, a victim is often unable to collect documents or these documents are sometimes deliberately withheld by a perpetrator. This can make proving an identity to usual bank standards a very difficult barrier to financial independence”.

The new changes are a step in the right direction for stamping out financial abuse.

If you find you are experiencing financial abuse and would like a confidential chat, you can contact us here.

Categories: News & Alerts, Perth Family Lawyers Information, Property Settlement, and Separation and Divorce.