Stuck in an abusive home
After a long abusive marriage I have managed to separate from my wife. Unfortunately I am now stuck in the same house with her. No physical abuse, but emotional, psychological and financial abuse. We cannot agree on a property settlement and she has all our money so I can't afford to move out unless I agree to her terms, which are unfair and she knows it. She knows I can't leave.
I have a solicitor, but it will take 12 to 18 months to drag her through the court. Apart from the financial cost, I cannot imagine how I will cope with 18 months of this. I am already fearful that my life is at risk.
My solicitor says that the Family Court won't care about the abuse, and besides it is too hard to prove anyway. I have tried many agencies and they all agree that the abuse should come into it, but I keep hitting dead ends. If I were female with bruises I would have a case. There appear to be very few avenues for men. Help!
Thanks Mr Paul,
Abuse may be a criminal law matter in theory, but psychological, emotional and economic abuse don't cause bruising, therefore nobody will take an interest and it will never get anywhere in court.
Ecomama, I am sorry if I offended you or anyone else. I am just finding that I am constantly hitting brick walls and the impression I have is that there are more services for women in my situation than men (possibly because there are more women in my situation). I can't recall "extreme" comments though. I have a high regard for women in general and my heart goes out to anyone who is suffering from domestic abuse.
I have had a look at the Men's Legal Service and it is not free. I would have to enter into a financial agreement before accessing their services, so another brick wall.
I looked around for another solicitor, difficult during the Christmas season, but I have hit yet another brick wall. No solicitor would take me on while I still had representation with my current solicitor. So I stood them down. Now no solicitor will represent me because I owe money to my previous solicitor, which I cannot pay because my ex has all my savings in her name. No money, no help, another brick wall. I tried Legal Aid, but I have too many assets (which I can't access) so they won't help either.
So now I am unrepresented, unsupported, getting very desperate. Meanwhile I am still living under the same roof as my abuser, with my bedroom door locked, fearing for my life. It looks like I will be here for some time. I worked out that I can pay off my solicitor's bill in about 2 years. No wonder people get very desperate and act in ways that seem out of character. Abusers win every time.
Here is a link to the Men's legal Service (MLS), https://menslegalservice.org.au/about-us/
At the top right of the page, you will find the following statement:
Our mission is achieved through the following key actions:
Providing low-cost and means-tested no-cost legal services to clients in a dignified and professional manner;
Please note that their fees are "low-cost" and "means-tested". If you explain your financial situation, they might be able to help. You can only ring and ask. It is important to tell them that your wife controls the finances and that you have no access to money. Yes, you will have to enter into a financial agreement with the MLS, that is normal. The point is, they are your cheapest option outside of legal aid. The MLS will most likely let you run up credit sheet, payable on settlement of your property settlement. The MLS was set up for men in your position.
If DV continues to be a problem, you could try Mensline Australia at: https://mensline.org.au/
They provide help with DV matters. You will find a link at "Help is Here" on the Mensline homepage. Worth a call; they might have some ideas to help you move out to a safe place.
I would not be too concerned about legal fees, they will paid from the "marital pool" once divided.
There is no easy way out. You have to play the sick convoluted game if you want justice.
Let me know if you have any questions. I've been through the divorce process recently.
Following your advice, I called Men's Legal Service, but they can't help me either. Like everywhere else, it would be unethical for them to take my case while I owe another solicitor money. They suggested I represent myself in court. But even if I could, how do I even get to court? I have money but it is in my ex's name!!!!! I own half the house we live in (with no mortgage). I have assets. How do I get my money short of holding up a bank?! Like I said before, abusers win every time!
"I would not be too concerned about legal fees, they will paid from the "marital pool" once divided."
If only that were the case! I am going out of my mind!!!! I have never felt so angry in my life!!!!
To be honest, I'm gobsmacked. This is financial abuse at its worst. Try and keep your cool; this matter will resolve; eventually.
Have you tried talking to someone at "Mensline Australia". They are a different outfit to "The Men's Legal Service". Mensline might have a few options you can try. Here is the link: https://mensline.org.au
Sometime back you mentioned that you were getting a disability pension. Is that your only source of income? Is that income going into your sole bank account or a joint account? Do you have access to any other joint accounts?
Approaching this problem from a different tack, in your very first post, you said;
"We cannot agree on a property settlement and she has all our money so I can't afford to move out unless I agree to her terms, which are unfair and she knows it."
What were her terms? Can you agree to her terms, just to get out of the house? Once you are out of the house, you can then go about making the agreement fair. The courts will not recognise an unfair agreement. Property "consent order" have to be fair.
I will look into other avenues you might try.
Don't give up!
I've done a little reading about your lawyer situation.
Your are entitled to change your lawyer at any time; I changed my lawyer 6 months into my property settlement without drama.
Your problem is, fees are still outstanding to your first lawyer. Once that account has been settled, the Men's Legal Service will most likely take you on.
Given your financial situation at home, the question is; can you settle you current legal fees from joint funds. The other question is, do you really need to change lawyers in the first place. Can you stick with your current lawyer?
Just a few thoughts.