NI: Belfast lawyer addresses financial abuse conference

Claire Edgar
Claire Edgar

Claire Edgar, partner at Belfast firm Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors, addressed a wide range of professional delegates at the Financial Abuse launch in Stormont.

Ms Edgar presented a summary of the impact that financial abuse can have on legal aspects of separation.

The Financial Abuse guidance has been launched by the Belfast Domestic Violence Partnership, a group which brings together solicitors and agencies, including Women’s Aid, the PSNI, Social Services and the NI Courts and Tribunals Service.

Ms Edgar told Irish Legal News: “The time of separation is very often when someone is most vulnerable to financial abuse.

“They may have little or no income (having been financially dependent on their partner) and though they will be eligible to benefits, these can take some time to come through. They may also have to rehouse themselves in an emergency situation with all the costs which this entails, particularly if they have had to leave their home in an emergency with no time to bring their belongings or even important paperwork which is often needed to apply for housing and benefits.

“I have practised as a solicitor in family law for 20 years and it is my experience that at the time of separation an abuser will exploit this financial vulnerability.

“There are a number of areas of family law which are impacted by financial abuse and number of legal remedies which can assist to tackle financial abuse.

“I hope that the Financial Abuse Guidance developed by the Partnership will help professionals and policy makers to understand some of the problems which victims of financial abuse face and help professional to provide important practical support to victims.”

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