How to handle joint accounts during a divorce

Joint bank accounts can be a thorny issue when it comes to divorce. Every named party on the account has full rights to use it. They can make withdrawals, deposits and decisions about the account. However, people in Montana should understand that it’s not possible for one account holder to take another off the account during a divorce. All of the named parties on the account have ownership rights and agency over their own participation in the account.

Managing joint assets during a divorce

Joint accounts can raise a lot of tricky questions during a divorce. Technically, anyone named on the account has the right to empty it. But judges tend to see these assets as joint property to be divided, and they will frown on one party clearing out an account behind the other’s back. In fact, spouses who try this may be ordered to pay back more than what they took. Courts sometimes add fees and penalties to the original figure.

In some states, it may be considered appropriate for one party to withdraw half the money in a joint account before divorce proceedings have formally started, but no one should ever try this without speaking to an experienced attorney. If one party in the divorce is worried that their ex will try to empty the account, the bank may be willing to freeze it. In these cases, one party’s divorce lawyer will need to inform the other when that happens.

Once the funds in a joint account are split up, the account can be emptied and closed. In amicable divorces, the couple may be willing to do this early in the process. In acrimonious divorces, it may be helpful to retain a knowledgeable lawyer to advocate for their client while the distribution is being decided. With legal help, an individual may have a better chance at a favorable outcome when it comes to asset division.