Closing joint bank accounts during divorce

During a divorce in New York, spouses will need to begin the process of separating their common interests, assets and other property. This includes dividing the funds and closing any joint bank accounts.

What are your options?

While there are different processes for each type of asset when it comes to property division, dealing with joint bank accounts is relatively easy. The options include:

  • Going to the bank together to withdraw and then divide the funds before closing the account
  • Notifying the bank of the divorce and asking to freeze the account, which limits access for both parties
  • Each party withdrawing the 50% that belongs to them, which might only happen if the divorce process has not begun

What are the risks of keeping the account open?

When the joint bank account remains open during the process, there is always a risk that one of the parties might withdraw all the funds in the account, even though 50% of the funds would technically belong to the other party. Someone who withdraws all the funds, whether from necessity or maliciousness, might be required to pay back the 50% that belongs to their ex-spouse. They might also be further financially penalized by the court and charged with criminal contempt for not following the law and requirements of the case.

During a divorce, partners often have to make important decisions about the division of assets while dealing with anxiety, tension and other intense emotions. However, a family law attorney could help guide a soon-to-be ex-spouse during this time. The lawyer can make sure the client doesn’t overlook any details as they prepare for divorce.