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What happens to a joint account in divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2020 | Divorce

In the event of a divorce, spouses know that they will have to split up the property they share. This is often a point of stress for many individuals. They worry about what will happen to their home, their business as well as the savings they have accrued throughout their marriage.

This leads many individuals to wonder: how will they divide their joint bank account?

Joint bank accounts are marital property

Funds in joint bank accounts or savings accounts are marital property. Therefore, under Maryland law, divorcing spouses must divide the funds equitably based on the factors of property division, which include:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • The financial contributions each spouse made during the marriage;
  • Each spouses’ financial circumstances; and
  • How spouses acquired the assets.

These factors help spouses – or Maryland family courts – to determine the amount that each spouse receives from the joint account before spouses close the account after they finalize their divorce.

Is there a way to protect the assets in a joint account?

Spouses facing a divorce often worry if their spouse could remove money from the account – or perhaps even drain the account of all funds. Draining the account is not without consequence, since it is marital property under the law. Even making withdrawals could be a risk in some cases, depending on the reason.

However, spouses can take preemptive actions to prevent such an incident and protect their assets. For example, individuals:

  • Should calculate their financial assets before moving forward with the divorce;
  • Keep a record of their expenses as they navigate the divorce;
  • Contact the bank or other financial institution to inform them of the divorce; and
  • Freeze accounts during the divorce, so neither spouse can make a withdrawal without consent from both parties.

It is critical to take steps to protect one’s finances during their divorce, so they can feel secure in the next chapter of their life. Spouses moving forward with a divorce should consult a knowledgeable divorce attorney to understand all of the options they have to protect their finances and assets during this process.