AB 2517 builds on current provisions for restraining orders in the Domestic Violence Prevention Act to address the debts an abusive partner may incur in the victim’s name without their consent. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday signed into law a bill written by Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, intended to strengthen protections for survivors of domestic violence by allowing them to avoid some long-term ramifications of financial abuse.

Assembly Bill 2517 is meant to allow courts to find that specific debts were incurred as part of a domestic violence situation and therefore not the responsibility of the survivor.

“Financial abuse is an invisible form of domestic violence that has lasting impacts even after a couple are no longer together,” Gloria said. “Today, we are lifting up our domestic violence survivors and making clear that we will not let abusive partners put them in financial ruin.”

AB 2517 builds on current provisions for restraining orders in the Domestic Violence Prevention Act to address the debts an abusive partner may incur in the victim’s name without their consent. This can include stealing their identity, opening credit cards or loans, forcing or forging their signature on financial documents and other debts they coerce the survivor into through threats and intimidation.

“Financial abuse is one of the most devastating methods of keeping a survivor trapped in an abusive relationship and deeply diminishes the victim’s ability to stay safe after leaving an abusive partner,” said Krista Niemczyk, public policy director for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

“By signing AB 2517, California is taking an important step in helping relieve survivors of the burdens they experience from debt their abusive partner incurred in the survivor’s name, without their consent or knowledge. This will help increase survivor’s ability to secure financial freedom and stability.”

The bill, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2021, will authorize the court to find that specific debts were incurred as a result of domestic violence and without the consent of the partner. By doing so, the court can assign debts to the abuser and allow the survivor to use the court order as documentation for civil debt relief protections.

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, financial abuse has been found to occur in 99% of domestic violence cases.

— City News Service

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