Going through a divorce is a challenging time. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to stay focused on the practical aspects, such as how to handle joint bank accounts. This article provides an in-depth guide on managing bank accounts when you’re on the brink of divorce.
Understanding the Situation
Deciding what to do with joint bank accounts during divorce can be a daunting task. The key is understanding that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer—it’s highly dependent on individual circumstances.
The first step in determining the right course of action is to assess the potential consequences of each decision. Whether it’s keeping the joint account, taking half of the funds, or stopping deposits, you must evaluate them from a case-specific lens.
Benefitting from Joint Accounts
If you’re the spouse who earns less and relies on the joint account, it might be beneficial to maintain the account. Consider the likelihood of your spouse removing the funds and whether that person will continue the deposits. If you believe the account is secure, maintaining the status quo may be the best decision for you financially.
Protecting Your Financial Interests
On the other hand, if you’re the primary earner, you need to protect your financial interests – especially if you no longer live with your spouse. Work with a reputable divorce lawyer to conduct a financial analysis to determine if it makes sense to keep a joint account running and continue deposits.
For example, if your spouse is dependent on you, the amount of money you’re making available week to week is a factor a judge will consider when deciding what your support obligation should be.
A skilled divorce lawyer will help you figure out a fair arrangement to keep your contributions reasonable and minimize the risk that the issue will result in a hearing that will cost you legal fees and possibly end with an order that hurts you financially.
Analyzing Financial Downsides
To figure out the best arrangement, compare the financial downsides of each scenario.
First, consider the risk of your spouse cleaning out the account. Or at least taking an unreasonable amount. If there’s a considerable risk, you might need to preemptively take action and take for yourself a reasonable amount.
Next, work with an attorney to assess what a support order would likely be if the case were in front of a judge. In other words, what would a judge order on financial contributions towards the maintenance of the home, alimony, child support, and/or other financial obligations?
Also, consider that any rash decisions could lead to your spouse feeling like you violated trust,, which may result in a higher-conflict divorce and/or issues co-parenting if you have children.
Seeking Legal Advice
Navigating through these decisions can be overwhelming. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult with a divorce attorney, especially if there’s a lot at stake. The attorney can provide the guidance you need to make informed decisions regarding your joint accounts during an impending divorce.
Can I empty my bank account before divorce?
It’s generally not advisable to empty a joint bank account before divorce without consulting with a legal professional. It may lead to the other party filing with the court and requesting an order that’s more expensive than your current financial obligations. It could also potentially be seen as a breach of trust and lead to legal repercussions.
Can my husband open a separate bank account during divorce?
Yes, your spouse can open a separate bank account during divorce. However, it’s important to note that these funds may still be considered marital property, depending on the laws in your state.
Are separate bank accounts marital property in MA?
In Massachusetts, all property, including separate bank accounts, may be considered marital property and divided during a divorce.
Can I open a new bank account during a divorce?
Yes, you can open a new bank account during a divorce. This can provide you with financial security, but remember to disclose this during your proceedings.
Do you have to show bank statements in divorce?
Yes, you usually need to provide bank statements during a divorce. Transparency is vital to ensure a fair division of assets.
Can your spouse access your bank account?
If it’s a joint account, your spouse has the same access rights as you. However, if it’s a personal account, they generally do not have access unless you provide it.
Remember, every situation is unique and requires a tailored approach. Seeking professional advice can help ensure you make the best decisions for your financial future during this challenging time.
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