A bill currently pending in the Maine Legislature would help alleged victims of domestic violence overcome the financial toll of abusive relationships. However, the way the bill is written, people who have been accused of domestic violence could be held responsible for compensating alleged victims.
Maine Bill Aims to Prevent Economic Abuse
The bill, HP 553, is an attempt to help people who have been the victims of so-called “economic abuse.” According to the bill, economic abuse happens when one person in a relationship makes the other person “financially dependent by maintaining control over the individual's financial resources.”
According to the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, the vast majority of abusive relationships include some sort of economic abuse. This could take the form of:
- Negative reactions whenever the issue of finances come up in conversation;
- Not being allowed to make financial decisions;
- Being lied to about money;
- Having personal purchases monitored; and
- Not being able to leave an abusive relationship because of money.
HP 553 would do two things to correct this:
- It would allow courts to order the alleged abuser to pay monetary compensation to the alleged victim for “losses resulting from economic abuse;” and
- Prevent debt collectors from taking action against an alleged victim of economic abuse if the victim can show that the debt was the result of economic abuse
Awarding Compensation Will Be Tricky and Goes Too Far
While the goal of HP 533 is admirable, the decision to allow alleged victims to recover financial compensation from their abusers goes too far.
The problem with HP 533 is that it assumes that all marital or familial problems arise to the level of domestic violence that is seen on TV. This is far from the case. Many marital disagreements and rocky relationships are two-way streets, with each side contributing to the problems. Many of these relationships end in divorce, with each spouse jockeying for position to get what they want from the other.
Recognizing the concept of economic abuse and allowing legitimate victims of domestic violence to recover compensation from their abuser for the costs of that abuse is not going to confine itself to those situations. It may also be utilized – in other words, abused – by people who want to get the upper hand over their spouse and are willing to use any means necessary to do it.
Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers at WTB Law
This is not to say that economic abuse does not happen. People in abusive relationships often find that their abuser is willing to go to great lengths to gain control over them and controlling their money and assets is one way to do it.
However, people who are not in abusive relationships may use this law to gain leverage over a significant other and demand compensation for economic abuse that never happened.
This is why the lawyers at WTB Law strive to legally represent and protect Mainers who have been accused of domestic violence. Contact us online or call our law office at (207) 571-8146.