Financial Exploitation Statutes’ Impact on Domestic Relations Practice
As baby boomers age, we seem to be thinking more and more about the concerns and needs of the older American. From retirement communities that sprout like weeds to ubiquitous Viagra ads, the national attention increasingly seems focussed on the aging population.
One outgrowth of this increased attention to elder issues is a growing awareness of elder abuse. This problem went virtually unnoticed before 1975, when various organizations began studying it. Now, discussions about elder abuse take place with increasing frequency, and one hears frequent calls for action to prevent or remedy the problem. Although there are few attempts to catalog incidences of abuse, those that have been done have had staggering results: estimates show that about one and one half million adults are abused each year.
As a result of this dialogue about elder abuse, states have moved to give increased protection to their older citizens. This protection has taken a number of forms. Many states have enhanced their adult protective services or created special law enforcement units to address problems of elder abuse. Some have appointed task forces to study the problem. Perhaps most important for the family lawyer, many states have enacted, or are considering enacting, statutes that deal directly with abuse of the elderly. This article will examine those statutes that address financial abuse of the elderly and the impact that such statutes have on the practice of matrimonial law.
Carolyn L. Dessin, Financial Exploitation Statutes’ Impact on Domestic Relations Practice, 16 Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 379 (2000).