Helping you cross the

legal finish line

Will your spouse face penalties for emptying your joint accounts?

You likely hoped that you and your spouse would begin your divorce on a level financial playing field. Yet, they may have had other intentions, which you discovered once you found your joint bank and savings accounts drained. Scrambling for funds will add extra challenges to your divorce. Yet, your main concern might be whether your spouse will be held accountable for their actions. Though they may, their consequences could depend on when they withdrew the funds from your accounts.

Before filing for divorce

During your marriage, you and your spouse could access and withdraw the funds in your joint accounts at any time. Yet, while emptying them is technically legal, it is inadvisable. Before filing for divorce, the general guideline is to withdraw no more than 50% of the funds in your joint accounts. If your spouse drained them, it is unlikely that Michigan courts will condone their behavior. Any penalties your spouse faces will reflect the severity of their actions. They may have to restore your share of funds or give you property of equal value in exchange for them.

After filing for divorce

After you or your spouse filed for divorce, you may have requested and received an ex parte order to uphold the status quo of your joint accounts. This order exists to prevent you and your spouse from withdrawing funds from them, aside from those needed for living expenses. Keep in mind, though, that state courts will not inform the financial institutions holding your accounts of this order. Yet, if your spouse drained them after the order was issued, they could face contempt of court charges. Besides restoring the missing funds, they may also have to pay your attorney’s fees, as well as a fine.

If you find your spouse has emptied your joint accounts, you must act swiftly. An attorney with family law experience can help you consider your options for restoring your financial status quo.