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Can I take money out of a joint checking account?

When you face divorce as the spouse who is not the primary income earner in your household, you may have a great deal of confusion or concern about how you should proceed in the divorce process. Even if you and your spouse enjoy a comfortable life, you may not know how to access all your assets, or even what all you have. Similarly, you may not known how to proceed without compromising your priorities in the divorce itself.

These are very reasonable concerns, which fortunately have practical solutions. In many cases, an experienced attorney can help you plan for your divorce and identify what assets you can plan to access various points in the process. In many cases, it is useful to obtain an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO) so that your spouse cannot empty your accounts and divert resources from the household as easily.

As the under-earning spouse, you may need to request temporary support from your spouse to meet your ongoing living needs and provide for legal expenses. With professional guidance, it is often possible to assess your potential expenses over the anticipated length of your divorce and petition for proper support throughout the process.

What you should avoid, on the other hand, is the urge to simply reach into any accounts you can access and take out whatever you can get. Such actions are very tempting, but may compromise your options later on or lead to a less fair divorce settlement for you in the long run. Before you personally use or move any assets out of your ordinary uses and access, an attorney can provide advice and guidance to help you maintain control of your assets. You wouldn't want to jeopardize a successful divorce because you acted out of concern without proper legal guidance to protect you.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: When Can You Withdraw Funds From Joint Accounts?," Jeff Landers, accessed Nov. 03, 2017

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