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Financial abuse post-separation

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My ex forced me to sign a financial agreement at the end of our relationship. He now has control of all of our assets (2 houses, a businessetc). I moved out with my children and not much else. I amtrying to move on but am still tied to $380 000 worth of joint debt of which $50 000 is a business overdraft and 2 maxed out lines of credit. He maxed out everything in our joint accounts after we split, adding $78 000 worth of debt.

After he put $1 in an account for me and took all of my keycards and credit cards, I was told not to touch our accounts, so I only found out months afterwards just how in debt we had become. I thought he was trying to get back on his feet after he had a breakdown when we seperated. Really he was seeing lawyers.

Our business earned $80 000 last financial year and he's now saying it earns $15 000 and so he hasn't had to pay any child support at all. He has lawyers to tell him all the loopholesand constantly threatens to take the kids from me. He's also said that I owe him 1/2 of the mortage payments for the last 12 months for the house he lives in and the investment property which he says isn't rented out. I'm flat out paying my own rent and supporting my children by myself.

My children and I had to survive on Centrelink benefits for 6 months while I was looking for work. I'm now an admin assistant on basic wages. I've beenpaying of a $3000 tax debt from when I was part of the business and a $1500 debt from the lawyer who witnessed the signing of the financial agreement. I'm trying to move forward with my life but my ex is holding me back.

The financial agreement says that he gets to keep the other house and business, cars etc and I will get $117 000 payment when he sells the family home, but there is no time limit on the sale and the figure quoted for salein the financial agreement, which he and his lawyers drew up,is much higher than the actual worth of the property. He now says he'll never sell the house.

I don't care at this point if I walk away with very little… I just want out.

I need to know where I can get some help.

I've been to legal aid and they can't help me because my ex owns a business and has too many assets.

- I need somebody to tell me if there is anyway I can force the sale of the house?

- What is my position with relation to the kids?

- Can he really get 50/50 custody?

- How can I get my name off of the business overdraft?

- Could he leave me with a huge debt?

- Can he really drag this out forever?

- What should I do?

I know this matter is complicated.

I just need to know where to go for good advice.

I would love to help you but financial issues are not my forte.

Regarding the children though, under the right circumstances, it is quite possible that week about (close enough to 50/50) can be obtained.

There are legal remedies that apply if you can establish that you signed a Financial Agreement under duress. Under 79A of the Family Law Act 1975 there are powers to have your matter reconsidered after an application to the court. There are cases you can read on Austlii, the legal database.

Discovering documentation that supports your arguments is a focus towards which you can direct your mind. Should he now feel that he has "won" the possibility of his arrograntly exposing the truths is alive. Gathering information without declaring your intentions is a reasonable strategy. Once you have a reasoned case then applying to the Federal Magistrates Court of Family Court of Australia is an option. There is no substitue for good preparation.

You can apply for Enforcement Orders so as to force the sale of the property. It is required as I understand it that you were to be advised by a solicitor before signing the Financial Agreement. Did that occur?

Before you can extricate yourself from the bank draft it could be that you will need to bring finality to the Financial Agreement which on the information you provide does not suggest neither justice or fairness. It has not brought finality to your situation, therefore it is of questionable value. The Financial Agreement ought to restrain the father from extending your indebtedness. If it does not then that could be cause for you to seek a remedy in court. Never bypass an opportunity to negotiate a resolution. Being better advised may be appropriate.

Your concerns about the custody of the children is not without reason. If the father is using any device to manipulate the contact and custody then at all times document those instances. At all times act in the best interests of the children, not your own interests, and should you have a resolution before a court your case will be strengthened. Be mindful that the court does not entertain any emotional arguments. It is all about the actual events and the objective reading of the facts. He can only get 50/50 custody if he can successfully argue that he is doing so in the child's best interests. Errant behaviour towards you would not register well. Restraining yourself is a very good strategy, unless it is warranted in the best interests of the children. (There are qualifications that are associated with that sentence). If the husband is not financially acting in the best interests of his children he is diminishing himself in both the real world and in regard to legal proceedings.

What is unstated in your writing is as to how you sustain yourself now?

On an initial reading with the information provided it appears that you need to prepare a strategy which will permit you to resolve the outstanding issues and inequities in legal proceedings. If he is trying to drag it out only enforcement of the Financial Agreement of legal proceedings might arrest the trend.

That begs the question as to whether you need legal representation. Here you may find answers to your questions. Also moral support. If you are of the mind that you are being injuriously affected there are decisions to be made, or, your situation could well continue. Regardless whether you are to be represented or not, the extent to which you researh and understand the law as it affects you assists you in properly briefing leagal representatives. There are barristers (direct brief) who will argue for you in court. Unpackaged legal services are an option. Pro-bono is worthy of investigation if applicable.

"What should I do?" - It is your journey, those who post here can address you questions, not determine your course. Put your questions in the form of objective truth and your path might become more obvious to yourself and the others who can share their experiences and knowledge. Most importantly read the posts on this site and endeavour to be a good parent as that in reality is the main game. Who the chilren are drawn to in the long term, not bought by, but feel a genuine affinity with, is the long term outcome. Legal issues are not as important as your children. The Family Law Act pivots around that perspective.

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
I am researching as much as possible and trying to get hold of documentation - which is proving very difficult.  I work full time as an admin assistant and struggle for time between that and trying to be the best parent that I know how, but I will find a solution to my situation, for my own sake and my childrens.  Thanks for the Advice verdad.

I have another question.  My children have just told me that my ex has rented out one of 'our' houses.  Does anyone know if I will be liable for 50% of the tax on any income he makes from that house?  I have no access to the house nor whatever he's making from the rent.  He's already told me that I owe him 50% of the mortgages (for the last 12 months) on both the house he's living in and the investment property, even though he basically kicked me and the children out of our family home and refused me access to the investment property.  I'm also jointly responsible for a $50 000 business overdraft that he's maxed out since seperation.  He's managed to get a Child Support assessment of $0, despite running a successful building business and now he's rented out this house without letting me know and I'm just worried that he'll try to pull something with that too…  Does anybody know about this?  I need to start protecting myself financially here.
"Does anybody know about this?  I need to start protecting myself financially here."

I'm new here, not a lawyer O_o or any particular authority on any subject but I wanted to help if I could and think I can see a few avenues that may help.

You said that getting documents about the 'shared business' from your ex was proving difficult :dry: (not surprising). If you are still a legal partner in the business and have not sold your equity in the business and are still jointly responsible for the business then you have a right to unfettered access to documents in regard to that business. You need to focus on your rights in this regard (get it heard in court)because it can reveal to you (and the court) if he has been 'doctoring' the paperwork, which it sounds like he has by his ability to magicaly reduce his CSA payments to 0.

Make sure you have a bank statement for the time he gave you the 1 dollar. Any court will see that evidence for the insult that it is.

It sounds like you both had money in that you had your own home plus an investment property. Yes, you are legally bound to pay the mortgage. He claims that no one is renting the house. Why don't you know this yourself for sure?? Surely you don't rely on him for your information?? Know what's going on in that house. If he is indeed renting it and says you owe him mortgage then he owes you dividend on the rent.

You will be having dealings with the CSA which are linked in some ways to the ATO. Get on the phone to the ATO and CSA and start asking for information about his earnings in relationship to yours. Even if they won't give you any information it will bring your ex to their attention. Document the timeline for his financial fall from grace. If he's supposedly not making any money from the business and it coincides with your departure then were you not the lifeblood of the business and hence it's major shareholder??

About the kids, the 50/50 custody thing is in my opinion what to aim for because at the end of the day the kids didn't buy 2 houses, the kids didn't start a business and the kids don't want to be a part of the financial side of life. They just want to know and see both Mum and Dad. When you are making arrangements with your ex about the kids leave all the money side out of it. If you stay child focused, when or if you do go to court over the children or the money, it will become evident that you put your children's welfare first.

The same can't be said for your ex. He kicked his kids out as well as you. I can't imagine the Family Court will think highly of that………….unless the kids are 26 years old, then he was right to kick them out….lol

Pariah :)

Financial Agreement

First, unless it is in the prescribed form as a "Binding Finacial Agreement" then it is open to challenge in Court. Unless you have had Independent Legal advice about the meaning of the Agreement, then it is not considered binding. Advice from the other party's Solicitor does not constitute independent legal advice. Next if you have hard evidence that the figures you were given were incorrect, then a Court will usually be willing to Hear the case.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
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