When you open a joint bank account, the contract between each spouse whose name is on the account and the bank allows them to deposit or withdraw money at any time. However, if you are going through a divorce and you start withdrawing more money than the reasonable expenses then it can be used against you in the divorce court. Most family courts treat a joint bank account as marital property. The law even extends to individual bank accounts that are owned by each spouse. The only exceptions are inheritance or a prenup agreement where each individual’s bank account is their own.
During the divorce proceedings, each spouse is required to submit a financial disclosure. The family court will consider the value of all marital property prior to the divorce including the joint bank account. The judge may decide to divide all the assets including the bank accounts either equally or equitably based on the circumstances. An unemployed wife who stayed at home to take care of children and the household may get more money (e.g. 65%) to support herself and her children than her husband (e.g. 35%).
If your spouse has withdrawn all the money from a joint bank account, you should immediately contact your attorney to file a motion in court. There is a possibility that you may have difficulty recouping the money if there are no other assets
While it may seem like a smart thing to do at the time, the family courts treat the withdrawal of all the funds as a hostile act. The judge may decide to use the following remedies:
If you have withdrawn less than half the money, it won't be much of a concern. You should keep receipts and records of all the expenses to defend your withdrawal in court. It would also be a good idea to notify your lawyer. If needed, your lawyer will inform the court and your ex-spouse's attorney of the withdrawal.
No, banks will not allow your spouse to withdraw the money from your individual account. However, the money in your individual account will also be split between you and your spouse unless it is an inheritance or you have a prenup in place.
Yes. Since most states treat all assets including money acquired during the marriage as marital property, the money is subject to a split unless it is an inheritance or you have a prenup in place. Even then, the state may order you to pay your spouse alimony to maintain the same lifestyle.
Yes. The family court is going to split the money equally regardless of your spouse's spending habits. The only exceptions are inheritance and the money covered by a prenup.
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Warning: This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.