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How do you escape from a financially controlling partner? (long, sorry)

(25 Posts)
Petcat Thu 05-Dec-13 11:10:28

I have been in a relationship with my partner for just over 5 years. We have a 6 month old baby and own a house together.

Until I became pregnant we were financial equals - we never had a joint account but earned roughly the same and split all bills 50/50. Since DD was born I have been on maternity leave, and my income is now a third of his.

Our relationship started to falter whilst I was pregnant - he became very cold and distant and was unsupportive when I went through some serious and distressing complications at the end of the pregnancy. I posted on here asking for advice, and was unanimously told to LTB. Shortly after I went into labour, had a traumatic birth (where he was the crappest birth partner anyone could wish for) and have focussed on looking after my baby and recovering from the birth ever since. Both DD and I have had health issues and he has very much left it to me to deal with it all. He has never looked after her in the night, bought her anything she needs or given her her medication.

After a miserable year together I finally feel that it may be best if we separate. However, I am absolutely broke. He will not give me access to the money he earns (I asked if we could set up a joint account while I was pregnant and he said he'd think about it but it has never happened). My savings are all gone because he expected me to pay half of all the bills and the mortgage for the first 5 months of my mat leave. It was only when I literally had nothing to give that he agreed to 'take on the mortgage for a bit'.

He insists on doing the food shopping and goes to the shop every day after work to see what's in the bargain bins. I end up eating whatever he's found for me, regardless of whether it's what I might want or need to eat. He can't cook so rarely buys proper ingredients. Since DD started weaning I have struggled to buy her decent ingredients for her food. We've recently discovered she has a couple of severe food allergies which means giving her healthy - and expensive 'free from' - home cooked meals is even more important than ever.

I am almost certainly going to be made redundant before the end of my maternity leave and am facing the horrible realisation I may be trapped with him, with a roof over my head but literally no money to buy clothes, run my car, go anywhere or do anything. My DD has health issues which mean finding appropriate childcare for her may be difficult, and she needs me to breastfeed her for as long as possible due to her allergies. Even if I did find childcare I would have to pay for it out of my wages, which may well end up being less than the cost of a childminder or nursery place.

I have no friends or family where we live, no one I could go and stay with if we did separate. My family are all poor too, so there's no hope of borrowing money. I also have 2 cats who I love, and my name on a joint mortgage.

I am not in any immediate risk and would prefer to stay in the home we own, even though I could not afford to run it by myself and I hate the town we live in. i guess I just wonder if anyone can see a way out of this situation for me? I don't think I can access any benefits while on maternity leave? Are there any organisations I could turn to for assistance?

whatdoesittake48 Thu 05-Dec-13 11:37:53

Womens Aid instantly springs to mind. use the time while he is at work to call them and make an appointment with Citizens Advice. They should be able to point you in the right direction with regards to benefits and rights.

As a co-owner of the house, you may be able to force a sale or he will need to pay you half its value - or vice versa if you stay in the home. this should be enough to cover your expenses for a while and give you breathing space. of course, it will take time to get.

What would his response be if you told him you wanted to divorce? To my mind, you would hardly be in a worse position financially than you are right now. Would he be reasonable and accept it and work out a solution to allow you to separate or would it become even more of a nightmare for you?

he appears to care very little about your child and even less about you. My only advice can be to get the ball rolling on getting away or forcing him out.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 05-Dec-13 11:43:19

Call womens aid
0808 2000 247

Also Rights of women

And maybe try CAB?

Call around solicitors in your area as well.

When you leave you will get CSA, Tax credits and child benefit.

JoinYourPlayfellows Thu 05-Dec-13 11:43:21

"I am not in any immediate risk"

Well, except for the fact that you don't have enough food or any money.

I agree with whatdoes, you need to get in touch with Women's Aid.

You will be much better off financially when he is forced to give you money after you are separated.

You will also be able to get half the value of your house and move to a town you don't hate.

Petcat Thu 05-Dec-13 18:53:49

I do not think he will take the news that I want to end the relationship very well. He's the kind of man who controls our relationship by refusing to argue with me. If I ever try to speak to him about anything I'm unhappy about he simply walks away, or ignores me, goes silent and sometimes sulks for a day or two.

I think he'll simply ignore my request to end things unless I actually walk away. We're already at the separate bedrooms stage, initially because DD wakes so often I needed to co-sleep to cope. He drinks every evening so it wasn't safe for us all to share a bed. Now I am so sad and full of resentment I can't bring myself to sleep beside him.

I was reticent to contact women's aid because I didn't think they'd take me seriously, he's in no way violent towards me - in fact he's a very timid, quiet and shy man - and as stupid as it sounds I'm only just beginning to think he might actually be abusive towards me.

Jux Thu 05-Dec-13 18:55:59

Yes, please call Women's Aid. You are being abused financially. I wouldn't be surprised to find you were being abused in other ways too. Oh, and he will ramp it up.

If you haven't called them yet do it tomorrow. Make it top priority.

TalkingintheDark Thu 05-Dec-13 19:00:39

Yes, it's abuse. Your story makes for very sad reading, I am so sorry you are having to deal with this.

I second all the advice to call Women's Aid. I am sure they will take you seriously. Good luck.

HogiBear27 Thu 05-Dec-13 19:03:35

Hi, I think that even though he has not been physically violent, the fact he is so unsupportive and financially controlling means he is still abusive and that doesn't even include the food shopping shopping.

Please please call women's aid and the other organisations mentioned above and and see where you stand - you can make choices from there. I can't imagine the stress of worrying about how I'm going to feed my child when my partner is causing this situation!

Thinking of you and while it may be a long road, I hope things work out for you. Please call them.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 05-Dec-13 19:21:07

Your abuser really started to show his true colours when you became pregnant by him. Abuse of this type often ramps up when pregnancy begins, if not before, and he has followed the usual abusers script of behaviour here.

Am I right in thinking you are not married to this person?.

I would second all the wise counsel to contact Womens Aid as they can and will help you. Staying with this person is not an option, you will need to leave him. You need to plan your exit with care (such men do not let go of their victims easily) and they can also assist with this too. He does not have to hit you physically to abuse you; you have and are being financially controlled here (denying you access to funds is abusive) as well as being emotionally abused (the silent treatment and sulks he seems so very fond of); abuse is all about power and control and he wants absolute over you. He's learnt this as well from either one or both his parents; such men do not change.

He will not make it easy for you to leave and will likely drag everything out for as long as he can as further punishment to you for having the gall in his eyes to leave him. I would not enter any form of mediation with him if this is offered to you due to his abuse of you.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 05-Dec-13 19:24:08

It will be easier to rebuild your finances if you manage to take a few key documents with you when you go. Of course, if you don’t manage to take these with you, you can get copies, but you’ll find your feet faster with these to hand.

Documents to try and take with you include pay slips and other tax documents, such as P45 forms; passports; your National Insurance number; bank statements; documents proving ownership of any belongings; details of credit cards and bills that are shared or in your name; your birth certificate and the birth certificates of your children.

If it’s not safe to take the original documents then try making copies, or simply scribbling down key information such as account numbers.

Diagonally Thu 05-Dec-13 19:39:47

I would add, do you have details of your redundancy package yet? Would it be enough to fund a deposit on rented accommodation while you sort out the house?

If the house has to be sold to release your share of any equity, then you should be entitled to housing benefit while the house is on the market - you can check the details with your housing office.

Also, you can apply for tax credits in your name only once you have formally separated, even if you are still living under the same roof.

If you put your current income into Entitled To you should get some idea of the additional benefits you could get.

Petcat Thu 05-Dec-13 22:04:06

I think you are right Attila, he will probably make it difficult for me to end the relationship. We had a rough patch about a year after we moved in together, and I considered ending the relationship then. He simply refused to even discuss anything with me, and just carried on living as though nothing was the matter. Eventually I gave in, apologised to him and things carried on as normal. I haven't really felt able to challenge his behaviour since then.

We are not married but are joint tenants on the mortgage and he has his name on DD's birth certificate. It is quite likely he would default on the mortgage if I left him, meaning both our credit ratings would suffer. I doubt he would challenge me having custody of DD as I provide 99% of her care now, he loves her but does little in the way of practical childcare and certainly doesn't provide for her financially.

I am looking at about £1000 redundancy pay - this would probably just cover the deposit and some fees on a 1 bed flat, although I imagine I will have difficulty securing a private tenancy without a job and references. A small baby and 2 cats won't make things easy either.

I will call Women's Aid tomorrow to get some advice on what I can do in the meantime. I appreciate this may take a while but I feel so much better knowing I am not completely trapped.

Jux Fri 06-Dec-13 22:00:01

Did you get anywhere with WA?

Petcat Sat 07-Dec-13 10:29:17

My baby was unwell and had one of those cry-constantly, won't be put down and won't nap either days yesterday so I ended up emailing my local branch once she was in bed. It will be easier to go there in person than try and talk on the phone.

I feel very scared. I think I am always so careful not to upset him that doing anything that might displease him (even if he doesn't know about it) makes me feel very anxious.

HogiBear27 Sat 07-Dec-13 10:53:29

I can't imagine how you must feel but you have a fair bit of support on here. Please go through with speaking with WA - you don't have to make any big decisions until then. Thinking of you. Hope your DD settles better today.

Anniegetyourgun Sat 07-Dec-13 10:59:48

If you can get some legal advice about the employment situation at all, do that as well. Employers have to be very careful about making women redundant on maternity leave so they can't be accused of making you redundant because of the maternity, if that makes sense. If the whole organisation is going down the pan, of course, or moving overseas, it won't apply.

Chunderella Sat 07-Dec-13 12:39:06

Is there any reason you need to stay in the town where you live now, if you hate it and have no family there? Are there family elsewhere who could put you up for a bit til you get back on your feet?

perfectstorm Sat 07-Dec-13 19:14:17

He's clearly abusive. It doesn't need to be violent to be abuse - the government accept that when setting out guidelines for legal aid. Hopefully Women's Aid will have some good advice for you and support you in getting out. Sadly abuse is very often something that first surfaces when a woman is pregnant, as she is also uniquely vulnerable then.

If he's employed, you would be entitled to CSA deducting statutory levels of child support from his pay packet if he didn't co-operate with payments. That money is not factored in when benefits are calculated, so you'd be entitled to full benefits PLUS that child support. You can also find out what the housing benefit level is in your area by looking up the Local Housing Allowance - that would give you some clue as to what sort of price range you would be talking for a rental flat.

Do you think you would have any equity in the house? While he's at work I would get three quotes on what the place is currently worth - you're entitled to your half share of that. It's lucky that the mortgage is in both your names, frankly. Too often it's only in the man's and the woman entitled to nothing.

I'm so sorry you're in this position. It's shitty he chooses to treat his partner and the mother of his child this way - and his own daughter, too.

myBOYSareBONKERS Sun 08-Dec-13 08:37:53

As much as you will not want to hear this - in order to get away and find accommodation you will probably have to re-home your cats. Maybe you should start looking into that too.

CerealKillerMom Sun 08-Dec-13 18:17:09

Does he have access to your bank account? If you're not sure set up a new one -for cb, wages, redundancy etc... Explain your circumstances and ask for all letters to be held at branch for you, rather than being posted to your home address.

Phineyj Sun 08-Dec-13 18:24:28

Make sure you clear your internet history regularly/use in private browsing - it sounds like it would make things worse if he gets wind of your intentions before you have a plan.

Petcat Sun 08-Dec-13 19:37:26

Thanks for the advice. I've put a password lock on my tablet so he can't see the sites I've visited.

Fortunately we have no shared accounts - although this was something I really wanted I appreciate it may be a blessing in disguise that he can't get access to my personal account. He's very good at getting me to pay for things, saying he'll reimburse me and then never doing so though.

Tomorrow I am going to collect all of mine and DD's important paperwork and keep it safe.

myboys the prospect of losing my cats breaks my heart. I have had them for over a decade and doubt anyone would take them on now they are elderly. I imagine that they would probably be put down if they went to the animal shelter. I feel so upset even thinking about it. But I know that I need to find a way out of the life I'm living, I just hope I can bring them with me.

As for the house, we will be lucky to get back what we paid for it, plus we have a fixed term mortgage with hefty penalties for closing it early. It still has 3 years left to run. The upshot is if I am lucky the house sale would end up breaking even, worst case scenario is it will actually cost money to get rid of the place.

Fortunately I do have a wonderful sister who would let me sleep on her sofa if all else fails. She's a couple of hours drive away, is broke and living in an overcrowded house herself but I know she'd be there for me if I was absolutely desperate.

FiftyShadesofGreyMatter Sun 08-Dec-13 20:01:21

While you are collecting yours and your dd paperwork you need to get copies of his if at all possible, or at least account numbers, balances, etc.

Good luck.

myBOYSareBONKERS Sun 08-Dec-13 22:13:08

What about foster care for the cats until you can find somewhere cat friendly?

perfectstorm Mon 09-Dec-13 09:46:24

If you live anywhere near the Cotswolds I can look after your cats for a couple of months or so. We don't currently have any pets so they'd not be bullied by younger residents, and there's a cat flap/garden. We can also bring them here from Birmingham area if that helps at all. And if you aren't in the locality I'm sure if you post on the animal section here on MN other MN will foster for you, too. So don't worry about that, they'll be looked after in an experienced home setting until you can house them again.

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