Can He Take Out All Money from Joint Bank Account?

Updated on May 06, 2011
M.M. asks from Tucson, AZ
18 answers

Its after 5pm so i cant ask my lawyer right now, but its is driving me nuts! I filed for divorce in April so we have a case number and everything. I was under the assumption that niether of us could take more than half of the money from our joint bank account. He took 3/4 of it! Does anyone know the law on this one?
Would you say anything to him? I take care of our 2 kids and am due any day with our third. He's left me with $220 for the next 2 weeks, really for a month if i want to pay morgage, which i could really care less about paying. He agreed to continue supporting us until after baby was born. My mistake for believing him. Sucks....
Oh and i do have half from our savings account in my own account. just no income to replenish it.
But he told me he'd leave the checking account alone for food, gas, bills, morgage, ect....

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answers from Las Cruces on

Right is only what's right. He should not be taking that money. Its up to the judge to determine how things will be divided. Use wisdom, but I would say something to him in a way to make him really think of what he is doing. To about you and the children and not only that what is his reason for doing so?


answers from Rochester on

As far as I know, if you're married and have a joint account, either of you can clear it out. Now, this knowledge comes from Judge Judy, so I don't know how honestly reliable it is...but I tend to believe her! Good luck...

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answers from Albuquerque on

Yes, he can absolutely take all of the money. So could you. I know hindsight is 20/20, but why didn't you get separate accounts when you filed for divorce? You need to protect yourself and your kids, and the agreements made when things are good quickly dissolve when things get rough.

First things first, remove the remainder of the money from your checking account and put it in an account in your name only. Do the same with your savings if you haven't already. Then please look at all of the other things you hold in common and ensure that he can't sell your house, your car, or anything else out from under you. (if your deeds say Jennifer AND Bob, then usually both signatures are required. But if they say Jennifer OR Bob, only one person needs to sign in order to sell something).

Most importantly, talk to your lawyer about getting a provisional support agreement IMMEDIATELY. That means that your soon-to-be-ex would need to pay child support and maybe spousal support in advance of your divorce. There's no reason why you have to go through your savings or operate on only $220 just because that's all that's left in the account. You need to get the court to require him to start paying support now, not after the divorce. Don't just operate on a promise... get it in writing and make it legal.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

He has every right to take every penny out of the account. You should have taken half from the start and opened your own account. Don't know if you work or not but he also has no legal obligation to give you a penny out of his paycheck without a court order. I learned both of these things the hard way.

Just read your update, you need your attorney in court now! He needs to get a court order in place for support. Yes you can get child and spousal support even before the divorce is final. That way he can't torture you by dicking around with the money.

I was lucky only that my ex is from a prominent family so he would not let this house be foreclosed on so he made the house payments and paid the utilities. Other than that he did nothing.

I am so sorry you are having to go through this.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

Either one can take all of it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

When I was divorced my ex husband took everything out of our account and reopened an account in his name only with the exact balance of our account. I had the bank statements to prove it. You will want to write letters to any institutions that hold joint accounts and ask them to either freeze the accounts until the divorce is final or require both signatures. Talk to your lawyer about this and the wording. So sorry this is happening to you!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

my guess is that is depends on teh state. here is some info I found (sorry not too helpful) :(

"Joint Bank Accounts:
In dealing with the joint accounts, there are a few logical options available to you and your spouse. The first would be to ask your banking institution to "freeze" the accounts in question and not allow monies in or out of these accounts without authorization by both parties. The second would be to empty all joint accounts into one, frozen account to be dealt with in the same manner as the first option. You may opt for an "Escrow" account, in which an officer of the bank is assigned to monitor and must given written authorization with respect to any such account before any transaction may be conducted. Lastly, one spouse can take out half the money in a given account and deposit it into their own, new individual account, for all intents and purposes leaving the joint account as the other's individual account. By not addressing this issue, you will give your spouse the opportunity and means to liquidate a specific account without your knowledge, leaving a startling discovery to be made in the future. While in the event of this, the court will probably provide for reimbursement, the actual receipt of such could be months or years in coming, leaving you to deal with the consequences in the immediate future.

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2 moms found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

you arent supposed to take anything by law, but that doesnt stop people from doing it. You need to open your own account and take what is left and put it into the new account ASAP.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Yes, he can take it. You need to get your own bank acct.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Unfortunately, either account holder can remove the funds, UNLESS there is a court order placing a hold on the account. It sounds like you are just starting things so his word really does not mean anything. You might want to move the money before he takes the rest.
I know it is not much to help you but I knew a woman whose husband emptied their joint account and then left them. She was lucky to have her own account as well but also in the divorce decree, the judge ordered him to replace 3/4 of what he took. they even put in paperwork to take from his paychecks/tax returns.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Well, there is what he can do technically and legally. Technically yes, either account holder can clear out a joint account. The bank does not know or care about your divorce proceedings unless you have a court order that freezes the account. I remember when we first opened ours they were crystal clear with us about that.
Now you should talk to your lawyer and make sure you have statements and such. Legally a judge can order your husband to give back the money (most likely as part of the regular divorce proceedings) and he can order broth of your assets frozen...
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Johnstown on

It depends on the bank itself, but in most cases--as long as your name's on it and there's no actual flag on the account to notify the bank workers differently, one or the other account holder can wipe the account clean.

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answers from Birmingham on

Yes, either one of you as long as your name is on the account can do anything you want to with it. Be sure to have a copy of the bank statement that shows the balance at the time of the filing and then the withdrawals that happened afterwards. Maybe he'll be ordered to pay you something back. Honestly, if he wants to play those games, I would go and pull out everything that had my name on it and put it away. If he pulled money out before, he'll most likely do it again and then you'll be left fighting for something in return. Go to the bank tomorrow and cash a check!



answers from Boston on

My bank requires both parties to be their to close an account.



answers from Las Vegas on

If it is a joint account the bank can't stop him from taking out all the money. However, I'm pretty sure that your divorce filing has a temporary restraining order with it which is supposed to prohibit both parties from taking away or disposing of assets that belong to both of you.


answers from Jacksonville on

Yes, when you open a joint bank account either of you can close it. The bank cannot legally tell him no. I worked in a bank for ten years and have seen this over and over again. The bank cannot freeze the account on one or even both of your requests. The same with loans, if you are both on a loan and in the divorce decree it states that he will make payments, if he doesn't you are still liable. The loan note supersedes the divorce decree. Your best bet is to open an account in your name only. If you put any of your paycheck into the joint account he can come and clean it out, and there isn't a thing the bank can do about it.


answers from Seattle on

I know at my Credit union, to remove all contents to Zero balance we have to have both of us there.


answers from Dallas on

At my bank we both have to show id. I tried to cash my husbands check because he was working late and they wouldn't do it unless he was there and its a joint account. Pissed me off!

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