If you are contemplating divorce, you likely have many questions and concerns. Financial questions are often near the top of the list for many people. You may find yourself wondering, “What will happen to my property?” or, “What happens to the money in our joint bank account?” These are normal questions to have if you are considering divorce. Fortunately, they are also questions that the trusted divorce attorneys with Florida Law Advisers can answer for you.
Why should your joint bank account be one of the first things to think about?
“The first thing you want to ensure when the divorce process gets underway is that your spouse cannot unilaterally empty out your joint checking and savings accounts. If this does happen, the court will likely require your ex to reimburse you, but your money could be slow in coming.” – Women’s Institute for Financial Education (WIFE)
Over half of all married couples have joint bank accounts. In an ideal world, every divorce would proceed amicably, with both spouses going out of their way to make sure that any cash in their joint account is fairly divided.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Many divorces are contentious, and it is not uncommon for one spouse to withdraw every dime from their joint account in advance of their upcoming divorce. Meanwhile, the other spouse is left shocked and penniless. To avoid this potential outcome, it is wise to think about your joint bank account right away.
How can you prevent your spouse from cleaning out your account?
Technically speaking, you and your spouse both have access to all of the funds in your joint bank account. This enables either one of you to empty your joint account without being forced to notify the other account owner. If you are concerned that your spouse may clean out your account, the best thing to do is contact an accomplished divorce lawyer in the Tampa area. Here are some other steps you can take to temporarily protect your money:
- Step One: Contact your bank right away to request that they freeze your joint account.
- Step Two: Explain that you and your spouse are getting a divorce. Be prepared to provide some identifying information to the bank.
- Step Three: Notify your spouse that you have put a freeze on the account. If you have sought legal representation, your attorney can do this.
Will your credit score suffer if you close your joint account?
“Bank account information is not part of a credit report. Therefore, when you close a bank account, whether it’s a savings or checking account, it does not affect your credit scores.” – Stacy Smith, Experian
Some people worry that closing a joint account will hurt their credit score. This is not the case. In fact, checking accounts are not part of your credit history, so opening or closing a joint checking account cannot hurt or help your credit score.
What is the best way to close a joint bank account?
Now that you now that your credit score will not suffer if you close a joint bank account, you may wonder what steps you need to take to close your account. The smoothest way to closing a joint bank account is for you and your spouse to visit your bank together and personally close your accounts. Here is what you will need to do to officially close your account:
- Present your driver’s license, passport, or other form of government-issued ID
- Make a note of any scheduled direct deposits and any pending payments
- Be prepared to sign documents to authorize release or transfer of money
The problem with this solution is that it typically will not work unless you and your spouse have an amicable relationship. If you and your spouse have a history of problems resolving issues, it is safest to seek the guidance of a divorce lawyer who will take the proper measures to ensure you receive your fair share of money.
What should you remember if you decide to close your joint account?
“When you close accounts, remember to keep at least one of your older credit accounts open. And consider keeping enough accounts open so your total balances on all open cards is less than 35% of the total credit limits.” – Transunion
While closing your joint account will not impact your credit score, it is a good idea to keep at least one or two of your longstanding credit accounts open. Transunion also recommends keeping your account balances below 35% of your total credit limit for each. These steps will help keep your credit history intact.
How much of the money in your joint account will you receive?
Generally speaking, both spouses are entitled to half of the money in a joint bank account when a divorce unfolds. There could be some exceptions to this rule of thumb. For example if you are able to provide bank statements showing you entered your marriage with more money, you could be entitled to a larger share of the money in your joint account.
Contact Florida Law Advisers, P.A. to Protect Your Assets
Going through a divorce is rarely a simple process – especially when it comes to protecting your money and other assets. The single best way to ensure that you receive the financial outcome you deserve is to reach out to an experienced divorce lawyer. Here are some of the many ways a divorce attorney can help you before and throughout your divorce proceedings:
- Communicate with your spouse on your behalf. This is especially helpful to spouses who have endured abusive behavior.
- Send a subpoena to your bank. This is sometimes necessary if your spouse refuses to provide key financial information.
- Uncover hidden financial information. A seasoned divorce lawyer can discover financial information that is not readily apparent.
- Provide support and guidance. An attorney will help you navigate through the financial complexities of the divorce process.
We invite you to contact us at Florida Law Advisers, P.A. to learn how we can help you protect your assets during a divorce. As your trusted legal representative, we will help you sort through your assets and answer any questions you have regarding their status.