Dealing with Shared and Personal Bank Accounts in a Divorce

By Henry F. Lewis on October 10, 2017

Writing a personal checkWhen couples are together, it's not uncommon to have a shared bank account. This bank account is in both spouses' names, and they are able to withdraw funds from this account without any issues. Of course, a divorce can lead to difficulties when it comes to dividing property, and it should be no surprise that major issues arise when it comes to splitting these shared bank accounts in a marriage.

The Oakland divorce lawyers of Gardner & Lewis, LLP have years of experience dealing with these kinds of issues in a divorce. Let's take a moment to consider how bank accounts are divided during a divorce and what kinds of problems may arise.

How Are Funds from a Joint Account Divided?

Generally in the state of California, it's important that property be divided between spouses in an equitable way. This could mean splitting funds in a joint account in half. It's also possible to receive only a portion of the funds from the joint bank account while possessing certain marital properties instead, such as a home or vehicle. A judge can help make these rules and help ensure fairness.

Disputes Over Depletion of a Joint Account

As a divorce begins, a spouse may attempt to withdraw funds from a joint account, whether to cover basic living expenses or out of malice. Similarly, a spouse may attempt to freeze a joint account, preventing the use of the funds in said account. These kinds of issues can make divorce proceedings even more heated.

Separate Bank Accounts in a Marriage

If spouses maintain separate bank accounts, there may be issues to consider as well. The primary question at hand is whose funds are whose. There is a chance that even with separate accounts, spouses may have shared and exchanged funds. For separate bank accounts, it's crucial that they be only in the name of each individual spouse. Additionally, it's important that all deposits to that account be made directly to the individual spouse.

Get Records and Information

As a divorce is getting underway, be sure to compile all of your financial information regarding your joint and separate bank accounts. That includes the following information:

  • All bank account numbers
  • Current balances on each account
  • Balance of an account before marriage (if applicable)
  • Date the account was opened
  • Contact information for banks and creditors

Opening and Closing New Bank Accounts During a Divorce

During a divorce, it may be a good idea to open a new, separate bank account. This will help ensure that a spouse does not try to deplete your funds. Be sure to inform the court of your intention to open a new account. Keep in mind, however, that the funds in that new account may still be deemed marital property. Be sure to keep all records of deposits and transactions.

As for closing account, this is a good option if you have any credit lines that have a zero balance on them. This will prevent your spouse from running up debt and potentially impacting your credit.

Learn More About Your Rights in a Divorce

For more information about your legal rights and options in a divorce proceeding, we encourage you to contact our experienced team of family law attorneys today. The team at Gardner & Lewis, LLP will offer expert legal counsel that can be helpful during this process.

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Oakland Office

1939 Harrison St
Ste 210
Oakland, CA 94612

More Info Directions (510) 451-4822