If you are in the unfortunate situation of getting divorced, then you may be wondering how to sort out your joint bank accounts. Whether the divorce is amicable or not, it is important that you both agree on how to split the monetary funds in your joint accounts so that you both get a fair deal. Here is some advice on how to handle joint bank accounts and the problem of divorce.
If you ware worried about funds in the account being removed, then you can get a freeze placed on the account which requires both parties to give permission before any money is removed. Although this may be a good temporary solution to avoid money being removed, it will obviously harm both of you if no money can be released. However, it is a good point to start from and ensures that the account remains untouched and there is motivation on both sides to solve the situation.
If the divorce is amicable and you feel that you are both of an equal financial standing, then the easiest way to sort out the problem of joint accounts is for one person to open a new account and deposit half of the money into that account. The other partner can then change the joint account to a single account, thus leaving each of you with half the money in the account. This is the quickest and easiest way to sort out any problems, but is not always possible if you are of different financial standings and an agreement cannot be reached.
Don’t leave the situation
Although you might think the situation will sort itself out, if your ex partner removes all of the money from the account and liquidates it without your knowledge, you could be left in serious financial trouble. Although you should be able to get the money back through the divorce settlement process, this could take months and leave you short of funds in the meantime. Whatever you do, make sure that you don’t just leave the situation to sort itself out.
If you hold joint credit cards, then it is important that you cancel your card and inform the bank in writing that you want to be removed from the credit card account due to impending divorce and that you will not be held responsible for any extra debts that are accumulated. Obviously, you will both still be responsible for any current debts, but make sure that anything your ex partner spends is not your concern. This applies to other bills such as phone bills etc.
Safety deposit boxes
Perhaps the hardest type of joint monetary asset to control is a safe deposit box. If one or both of you is self-employed then you might keep money in a safety deposit box. If you get divorced then there is no stopping one of you from emptying the box and leaving the other person with nothing. As soon as divorce is a possibility you should try and get the box frozen so that neither you nor your partner can access it on their own. If your bank won’t comply then take photos of the contents and get someone to sign it to confirm the contents in case they are removed. If you can remain civil with each other and take the necessary precautions, then you can both end up with the right amount of money from your joint accounts should divorce occur.
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James T. Mahan
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