In normal circumstances, you may have few worries about meeting the expenses that come with divorce. Yet, you may be agonizing over them if your spouse drained your joint checking and savings accounts. While their underhand move may seem extreme, it is unfortunately a common practice. You have ways to receive relief, though, if your spouse has left you high and dry.
Withdrawal during your marriage
By sharing joint accounts, you and your spouse can access and withdraw the funds within them at any time. If your spouse emptied your accounts before one of you filed for divorce, then, their actions are legal. Yet, people who plan on divorcing are often advised to withdraw no more than half the available funds in joint accounts. And Virginia courts will frown upon your spouse’s behavior if they deplete them. A judge may order them to reimburse the withdrawn funds or provide you with property of equal value that they would otherwise have received.
Withdrawal after your separation
After you or your spouse filed for divorce, a court may have issued a pendente lite order. This order helps uphold the status quo that existed during your marriage while you two remain separated. Among other things, it prevents you and your spouse from withdrawing funds from your joint accounts except to cover living expenses. Yet, it is up to you, rather than the court, to communicate to your bank that this order is in effect. If you fail to, your spouse may drain your accounts during this time. But they will likely face severe financial penalties for violating the pendente lite order. And they run the risk of receiving contempt of court charges as well.
While drained accounts will make your divorce difficult, know that you have ways to achieve relief and the settlement you deserve.