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High asset divorces may feature restrictions on joint accounts

As any Houston area resident who has gone through a divorce likely knows, a marital breakup is not immediate. Even if a splitting couple has few shared assets, no children and completely separate finances, a divorce will require at least a little bit of time. One of the most puzzling aspects of the divorce timing issue is discovering how to pay for things after a breakup but before a divorce is complete.

What many people assume is that those undergoing a high asset divorce needn't worry about such matters. On the contrary, a high asset divorce, or one in which either party has complex finances or considerable wealth, can leave both parties very confused regarding immediate money concerns. For instance, if one spouse earns a much higher income than the other, the lower-earning spouse may not even know exactly how much money has been entering or leaving the household.

For spouses who have been left out of the financial knowledge loop, it can be tough to spot evasive tactics by the other spouse during divorce. Even for those who had managed the family's money, they may be restricted from using joint accounts to pay bills after a divorce filing is made. This restriction is often known as an automatic temporary restraining order, which is a court-ordered prevention of financial changes after one party files for divorce.

Prior to divorce papers being filed, though, joint accounts are still accessible by either party. Some spouses may be tempted to withdraw as much as possible before papers are filed, but there are plenty of potential consequences for this decision as well. Sometimes the other spouse may have reimbursement claims, or may simply have a vindictive nature. In addition, withdrawing more than half of the funds in a joint account may also get a party into trouble later on.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing women: when can you withdraw funds from joint accounts?" Jeff Landers, Sept. 17, 2013

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

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