May 1, 2024 — Model Law

Economic abuse is a serious issue impacting vulnerable populations. Economic abuse occurs in 98% of abusive relationships and is the number one reason victims of abuse stay in or return to abusive relationships. Coerced debt is a form of economic abuse and an avenue for abusers to limit the economic independence of an individual.

Coerced debt occurs when an abuser utilizes coercive control or identity theft to incur debt in the name of an individual. Coerced debt can occur via threat, force, or fraud in the context of ongoing domestic abuse, which can be physical, emotional, or financial.

This model law provides two options for drafting: (1) a complete, free-standing model law, and (2) language you can add to existing laws in your state. Because economic abuse, and coerced debt specifically, is often linked to domestic violence, it is imperative to prioritize the safety of the debtor and other family members. Asserting a claim for coerced debt could result in retribution and harm to the debtor by the perpetrator of the coerced debt. The Act is crafted with these concerns in mind and includes provisions allowing courts to take steps to protect the victim’s safety, but more precautions can be proposed in any bill if needed.