Domestic abuse doesn’t always stop when the victim and abuser split up. Post-separation abuse is experienced by far too many separated partners, both men and women. That’s why the inclusion of post-separation abuse in the new Domestic Abuse Bill is so important, says family lawyer Rita Gupta.

Post-separation abuse is about power through control. A coercive abuser will try and keep control over their ex-partner by any means possible; violence, threats, intimidation, stalking, emotional and financial abuse and manipulation. It can continue for years, affecting victims, their children, and their wider family.

Control via the children

Once partners separate, their children may be the only remaining link between them. Post separation abuse can be when an ex-partner is deliberately obstructive on matters involving the children. Co-parenting disputes become worse, creating extreme anxiety and distress for parents and children alike. Children can also feel worried, confused, and trapped long after the abusive parent has left. Remote coercive control can continue to affect children emotionally, physically, and socially for years.

Post-separation abuse now an offence

Previously, post-separation abuse was only an offence when a couple lived under the same roof. Not any longer. The new Domestic Abuse Bill will recognise post-separation abuse even if the ex-partners live miles apart. This will be a huge help for people trying to extract themselves from the grip of coercive control.

Post-separation economic abuse

Economic abuse is when the perpetrator of abuse uses financial manipulation to blight their victim’s life through:

• Denying access to joint funds or monies legitimately due

• Not paying the agreed Child Maintenance

• Demanding an unrealistic level of financial support

• Running up debt in their ex partner’s name (coerced debt)

• Causing delay with implementing financial settlements

Coerced debt and unrealistic support payments can prevent the abused partner from making a new life and becoming independent. Every monthly payment becomes a vivid reminder of their years of abuse and their abuser.

Control and child costs

In my own family law practice, I have seen how one parent will try to cover the children’s activities, kit, tech and school uniform costs, while the other parent believes that child maintenance would cover the lot. The flip side is that an absent parent may think they must pay excessive financial support to “be a good parent”.

Beyond the headlines

Whilst (sadly) it’s the more extreme post-separation violent abuse that hits the headlines, it’s the underlying coercive control and ongoing economic abuse that blights lives for years to come and is a common factor in many people’s lives.

If you are suffering from postseparation abuse of any kind, the time to act is now. Get legal advice from an experienced family lawyer who understands this area, and discuss how to free yourself from any coercive control scenario.

Rita Gupta is offering Stay Connected readers a 1-hour initial online consultation, including 30 minutes free, to discuss your situation. (For qualifying clients, T&Cs apply).

Rita Gupta – Director – LGFL Ltd

01189 735521

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