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Can I take half the money out of our joint bank account?

October 11, 2017 Our Blog

When you consider it is time to file for a divorce, it’s crucial to protect yourself as best as you can. Protecting your finances and money is important for getting started in your new life. One of the first ways to start protecting your financial future is to withdrawal some of the money from your joint account and place it in your own personal account. However, before you take this step, it is essential to consider that this is a legal course of action. If it is legal, it needs to be done in a specific way.

Is It Legal To Withdraw Funds From Our Joint Account?

A spouse is legally able to withdrawal up to half of the money that is inside of your joint bank account before a divorce is filed. Keep in mind, however, that it is very important that this stuff is done before the divorce paperwork is filed. If you do it after filing for the divorce, it can be considered violating the law. After the divorce is complete, all joint bank accounts will be liquidated and split equally between the two spouses. Your savings and checking accounts, credit cards, investments, deposit boxes and any other joint property will be evenly divided and then distributed by the courts. However, before you file for your divorce, you’re legally able to withdraw up to half of the amount of money in your joint bank account. This is what you would be entitled to during most divorce agreements. It should be noted, however, this step needs to be done with your spouse’s knowledge in order to keep it legal.

Reasons For Withdrawing Funds Before Divorce

Lawyers will recommend that spouses work amicably together in order to split the funds in their joint bank accounts before the divorce is filed. Also, whenever possible, try to work out with your spouse any financial and property changes. If you think that your divorce is going to be a hostile one, it may be necessary to take out half of the money from your joint bank account before your spouse is able to place a freeze on your joint account. Unfortunately, hostile divorces can typically lead to one spouse withdrawing all of the funds from a joint bank account without the other spouse’s knowledge. Doing this can cause many more legal troubles during the divorce.

Steps To Withdrawing Your Half Of The Joint Bank Account Funds

After you have made the decision to withdraw your half of the money from your joint bank account, you should follow these tips below. Also, do not be surprised if you get a negative reaction from your spouse. The first step should be to open a bank account with your name only on it. Once your new account is active, simply transfer the funds from your joint account to your new personal account. Secondly, you should keep records of all of the money that is spent from the joint account. This is to keep you safe in the event that your actions are called into question. Keep these records in a safe place where your spouse cannot get to them.

Once you have all of your finances protected, it is time to let your spouse know. Be sure that you explain to them that you left enough money in your joint account that is sufficient for the divorce. Enough money should be left in the joint account in order to pay for certain expenses of the household and monthly bills. After you have finished filing for the divorce, inform your spouse of everything that you did.

Consult An Attorney

Filing for divorce is a complicated process. This process is even more difficult when there are many assets to be divided. It is in your best interest to consult the help of an experienced attorney who will guide you through the process and let you know exactly what to do without breaking the law.

Can I sell personal items to help pay for getting a divorce?

If you are preparing to initiate divorce proceedings, or have just commenced the process of legally brining your marriage to an end, you likely have an array of questions. For example, you may wonder whether you can sell items of personal property to pay the costs and attorney fees associated with getting a divorce. The reality is that the answer to this question is not simply a black and white situation.

Understanding Marital Assets

When divorce proceedings commence, a New York Family Court is concerned with what legally are known as marital assets. Marital assets represent the property that the parties to a divorce accumulated during the marriage.

Understanding Non-marital Assets

The possibility also exists that you own non-marital assets. Generally speaking, non-marital assets represent items of property that you owned before you entered into marriage with the party you now seek to divorce. Legally speaking, something that truly is an item of property you clearly owned before the marriage is not going to be subject to the divorce proceedings.

If something truly is a non-marital asset, and if the status of that property is not disputed by your spouse, you theoretically can sell that property and utilize the proceeds to pay your legal fees and other divorce-related costs.

You do need to take care however to make certain that nothing occurred after the marriage that converted an asset once classified as non-marital into one that is encompassed as a marital asset. For example, if you owned a car before the marriage and finished paying off the loan on the car with marital assets or money, at least a portion of the value of that car would be considered to be a marital asset.

Selling Marital Assets After Divorce Proceedings Commence

As a general rule, once divorce proceedings commence, a temporary freeze exists prohibiting the parties from selling the assets of the marriage for the benefit of one spouse. In other words, once divorcer proceedings commence, you generally are not permitted to start selling marital assets as a means to pay for your own attorney fees.

In most situations, the only way in which you can appropriately sell a marital asset for the purposes of paying your divorce expenses is to get authorization from the court to do so. Keep in mind that if you are granted permission to sell property to pay your attorney fees, the value of that property is likely to be assigned to the tally of assets that ultimately are set aside to you in the divorce proceedings.

Selling Marital Assets Before Divorce Proceedings Commence

You also need to take care when it comes to selling marital assets before a divorce case is filed as a means of generating money to pay your divorce-related costs, including attorney fees. While no court order is in place technically preventing the sale of assets, selling property to fund your divorce can prove to be problematic in some cases.

If you feel you need to generate funds from selling assets before a marriage dissolution case starts, to pay your divorce-related fees and other expenses, you should endeavor to get the agreement of your spouse to take this course. Indeed, you should get his or her agreement in writing, specifically delineating what items of property will be sold to assist you in paying your divorce costs, including attorney fees.

Retaining Legal Counsel

A qualified New York divorce lawyer can assist you in better understanding your rights as they pertain to marital assets and debt. You can schedule an initial consultation with an experienced New York divorce attorney to discuss your case, including to obtain answers to questions about marital assets, selling property, and your attorney fees.

A divorce attorney will provide an overall evaluation of your case. In most instances, a New York divorce lawyer does not charge a fee for an initial consultation with a prospective client about a case.



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