Deciding how to pay for expenses during a divorce can be challenging for a woman – even for those who are well off. Even though society has advanced over recent decades, many women are still in marriages where they do not earn an income or they earn significantly less than their husbands. Many husbands are largely still in control of household finances, including information about income, bank account balances, investments, spending, and accessing the funds. During a nasty divorce, this can lead to financial devastation for a woman.
When a party files for divorce, the courts have the right to restrict both the husband and wife from using joint financial accounts in certain ways. With an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ARTO), a wife who depends on the funds in a shared bank account may be prohibited from making any withdrawals. In order to prevent this, a woman may consider making withdrawals before she files for a divorce or as soon as she suspects her husband will file.
Some divorce attorneys suggest that a woman withdraw half of the money in any joint accounts, since she would likely be legally entitled to it. The transactions must take place before any legal paperwork is filed; otherwise, taking the money could cause a problem. Other family law attorneys advise against taking any funds from joint accounts since doing so can cause the husband to seek revenge and freeze all other assets.
Before making a decision about whether or not to withdraw money from joint accounts during a divorce, an individual should speak with a divorce attorney with experience in property division. Such an attorney may be able to petition the court for money to fund the legal proceedings or help the parties involved reach an agreement.
Source: Forbes, “Divorcing Women: When Can You Withdraw Funds From Joint Accounts?“, Jeff Landers, September 17, 2013