Handling a Joint Bank Account During a Divorce


Joint bank accounts cause a great deal of confusion during divorce proceedings. That’s because like everything else in a divorce, answers to questions of who can do what become complicated fast.

Can One Spouse Withdraw it All?

Both you and your spouse have to figure out how to pay basic bills before the divorce is finalized. And both spouses may suffer from the fear their ex may land them in deep trouble by simply cleaning them out.

In the long term the aggrieved spouse might recoup that money, but figuring out what to do in the short term can be stressful!

Fortunately if this happens to you, you’re not without options. With an attorney’s help you can file an injunction for interim relief. You may have heard these court orders referred to as “temporary” or “emergency” orders.

An interim relief order can help both spouses survive until the divorce is finalized, and can prevent the creation of any new debt or the purchase of any new major assets. Interim orders may even demand you freeze the joint account.  

Keep in mind if you are the spouse thinking about taking every last cent, you may want to think twice. The judge will take this action into account in the final settlement, and it will certainly cost you. And you’re almost guaranteeing you will have to go to a judge, because having an amicable divorce after sending your ex into panic mode just to pay rent or buy groceries is unlikely.  

See also: 5 Dirty Tricks Your Ex Might Try and Why Divorce Wrecks Your Credit, and What You Should Do About It.

Should We Even Keep the Account Open?

Don’t close the account until the divorce is finalized, but don’t be too trusting, either. It is probably not a good idea to keep actively using the account.

Switch your direct deposits to an account held only in your name, and work with your lawyer to figure out what you can safely withdraw from the joint account.

If you don’t have interim orders, you’re usually safe to withdraw some money, just not all of it. It’s wise to avoid withdrawing more than half of the money that’s already in there.

See also: 5 Steps You Can Take to Keep Your Divorce from Destroying Your Finances and 4 Things You Should Change After Your Divorce.

Beyond these basic principles, every divorce is different, and every financial situation is different. It’s not a bad thing to bring up in one of our free consultations.

Are you thinking about getting divorced? Has your spouse recently served you with divorce papers? Contact our offices to schedule your free consultation now. Don’t stumble through these issues on your own.

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