How to Handle Joint Accounts During a Divorce

As a given marriage travels down the road towards dissolution, many loose ends will need to be tied. Some of the most significant of these will be of a financial nature, specifically, the joint accounts once shared during the marriage. Savings and checking accounts, credit cards, equity credit lines, safe deposit boxes, investment and similar type holdings, and property ownership are some of the issues, to name a few, that will have to be resolved before the actual final divorce can be granted.

Obviously, all joint bank savings and checking accounts will have to at some point be liquidated and in some proportion divided. It is perhaps the best idea that at time of separation not only to open a new checking or savings account in your own name only, but to try and deposit some monies into such. In this way, you will not only be guaranteed to have fiscal reserves in time of need, but that no one but yourself can access such accounts.

Unfortunately, the closing of accounts is not always necessarily a clear cut issue. The operating procedures to do so may vary from state to state. Perhaps the best way to determine what is the best course for you and your spouse would be to consult an attorney, or, at least, a local law library.

Joint Bank Accounts:

In dealing with the joint accounts, there are a few logical options available to you and your spouse. The first would be to ask your banking institution to "freeze" the accounts in question and not allow monies in or out of these accounts without authorization by both parties. The second would be to empty all joint accounts into one, frozen account to be dealt with in the same manner as the first option. You may opt for an "Escrow" account, in which an officer of the bank is assigned to monitor and must given written authorization with respect to any such account before any transaction may be conducted. Lastly, one spouse can take out half the money in a given account and deposit it into their own, new individual account, for all intents and purposes leaving the joint account as the other's individual account. By not addressing this issue, you will give your spouse the opportunity and means to liquidate a specific account without your knowledge, leaving a startling discovery to be made in the future. While in the event of this, the court will probably provide for reimbursement, the actual receipt of such could be months or years in coming, leaving you to deal with the consequences in the immediate future.

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