Ask A Divorce Lawyer: Do joint bank accounts offer any protection from her draining the accounts?

Question:

Last February, I told my wife that I wanted a separation. We went through a month of hell living together. She, to my total shock at the time, ended up getting an attorney and filing for divorce. I thought she would never do that. But what really shocked me – we’ve been married 10 years and thought I knew her better – she took the $10,000 in cash that we kept stashed in a safe. She eventually stopped the filing, we made up and she returned the money. Since then, I have put all money in our bank accounts so it can be tracked. So my question is this: If we start this divorce thing again, do I have any protection from her draining the accounts?
 

 

Answer:

First, each state has specific statutes relating to divorce and as I am not licensed to practice in Oregon it would be beneficial for you to contact a domestic litigation attorney in Oregon before taking action.
 
The good news is that by placing the funds in a bank the bank will maintain records as to who takes the money, when and how much. Unfortunately, if the account is jointly titled there are no restrictions on any of those things.  
One option is for you to take all the funds and put them in account in your name only. This will not protect the funds from possibly being included in a marital property calculation later, but it will keep the money safe. Another option is to take half the funds and put them in your name only, leaving your wife access to the rest.
 
A third option is to obtain a restraining order on the funds. A restraining order is an order by which the court prohibits one or both parties from taking whatever action is specified in the order. If a party were to violate the restraining order the party could be held in contempt of court.
 
Again, I would advise you to speak with a domestic litigation attorney in Oregon before taking action.

 

 

Nancy R. Shannon, a Nebraska native, is an Associate Attorney in the Omaha, Nebraska office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed in the state of Nebraska where her primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Shannon received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Doane College and her Juris Doctor from University of Nebraska – Lincoln, where she was a finalist in a Moot court competition and active in Client Counseling activities.

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