How Do Courts View Separate Bank Accounts in a Divorce?
There are many misconceptions about the division of property during a divorce, and some of those misconceptions have to do with the division of bank accounts. You should be aware that the name on a bank account doesn’t necessarily dictate who will receive those funds. The divorce court judge will determine whether the funds are joint property or one spouse’s separate property by applying Florida state law. Not only with regard to bank accounts, but getting what is rightfully yours in a divorce, no matter whose name is listed on the asset, can be complicated. Consult with an experienced divorce lawyer regarding the protection of your finances and to determine what will be seen as marital property versus separate property. In Law We Trust, P.A. works with men just like you, who don’t want to take a chance with their future financial well-being. As your legal counsel, we will make sure that you not only understand your rights, but are confident that your assets and best interests are always represented.
In the Eyes of the Court
In order for a bank account to be considered as separate property, it must have only your name on it and the account should not receive deposits of any money earned during a marriage. Inheritance money or gifts made to you can go into a separate account, but not If the gift has both spouses’ names on it. To maintain that an account is truly separate, you should keep detailed financial records from all bank accounts before and after your marriage and not commingle any marital funds into a separate account.
It is also important to know that you should never utilize separate property funds towards marital debt. If you use a gift or your separate funds to pay down credit card debt or the mortgage on your home, the funds would then become part of the marital property. If you would like to buy something that will remain as separate property, pay for it with funds out of your separate account and keep records of everything related to that purchase. If you establish a separate bank account once your divorce proceedings begin, you must also keep impeccable records as to your financial picture right up until the final resolution.
What Should I Do About Joint Bank Accounts When Going Through a Divorce?
Many married couples have joint bank accounts, often with automatic payments for monthly bills and automatic payroll deposits. How to handle your joint checking and savings accounts when deciding to divorce can get very tricky, and should be taken very seriously. Ideally a joint account would be closed and the proceeds would get fairly divided, but this is not always the case, and these funds may come into consideration during final divorce settlements. There is a lot to think about when it comes to joint bank accounts, but without proper counsel and without cooperation between spouses, these integrated finances can turn into real problems. Seek the advice of a family law attorney from In Law We Trust, P.A. right away. Taking the appropriate steps to resolving joint bank account issues will save you a lot of problems and turmoil in the future.
Should I Empty the Joint Bank Accounts Before My Spouse Does?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for one of the spouses to withdraw all or most of the funds from an account, especially during a contentious divorce. This is a bad idea! Technically both you and your spouse do have legal access to all of the funds in your joint bank account, but withdrawals without the other spouse’s knowledge leaves them in a very bad position, and puts both of you in possible jeopardy when payments that are automatically deducted such as car expenses or mortgages, are suddenly due. In addition, the courts will not look kindly on this type of action, and will likely require the other party to be reimbursed.
It is best to get guidance by contacting a family law attorney and addressing your joint bank accounts right away. If you and your spouse are amicable, you should both set up your own separate accounts. Be sure to do new paperwork for direct deposits to go the appropriate bank accounts. Then close your joint accounts by visiting the bank together. Discuss any outstanding bills, pending payments, scheduled withdrawals, or additional fees that may be incurred, and be sure to do this before you divvy up the funds. As far as “divvying up the funds,” you are entitled to half of the money in the account. However, this division could get quite complicated; especially with savings accounts that show proof that one spouse entered the marriage with significantly more money. This is just another reason why consulting with an attorney from In Law We Trust, P.A. is essential to ensure that you receive the financial outcome you are entitled to.
The Best Way to Protect Funds in Joint Accounts
You can protect your accounts by contacting your bank to request that they freeze your joint account due to an upcoming divorce, and then contacting your spouse to advise her that you have done so. This can be done by either you or your attorney, but again, any sudden move like this could put both you and your spouse in a difficult position as to paying ongoing living expenses, so this needs to be down with great thought.
Trying to do this on your own can be tough to navigate. An attorney from In Law We Trust, P.A. is your best resource and will provide support and guidance to help you through all the financial complexities of this process. Not only will we send a subpoena to your bank, but we may also be able to discover financial information that is not readily apparent.
You Deserve the Best Legal Representation!
As you can see, identifying separate and marital assets can be very complicated, even when pertaining to bank accounts. You will want a skillful and accomplished attorney advising you and negotiating on your behalf. Working with In Law We Trust, P.A. during each and every important step of a divorce will help you achieve the equitable settlement that you deserve. We look forward to meeting with you!
Call The Family Law Experts Men Trust (813) 415-3510
In Law We Trust, P.A. is a premier firm of divorce attorneys representing men in family law proceedings. We are uniquely positioned to assist our clients with the challenges men face in Florida’s court system. Call us today and get the proper representation men need and deserve.