What If A Spouse Empties Joint Bank Accounts In A Divorce Case in Oklahoma?

Bank Accounts In Divorce

In Oklahoma family law cases bank accounts In divorce cannot be emptied out once the case is filed with the court. This is a tactic some try to use as a means of getting a leg up on the division of marital property. Other situations may even involve those where one spouse is trying to impoverish the other spouse making it hard for them to live. In Oklahoma there is specific laws that govern this situation and as a whole the division of marital assets in a final decree.

Understanding Joint Accounts In Oklahoma

In the Sooner State, financial matters during a divorce and division or property are guided by “equitable distribution” principles. This means that the court will divide marital assets including family businesses in a manner deemed fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal. In terms of joint accounts, any funds deposited during the course of the marriage are considered marital assets. This is because money earned while you are married, as the result of marital industry, is a marital asset. This means that regardless of which marital partner went to work and earned the money that money is being earned for the marriage and deemed a marital asset.

Can Your Spouse Legally Empty Bank Accounts in Divorce?

Technically, if the bank account is joint, both parties have equal rights to access the funds. However, emptying the account without mutual agreement could potentially be seen as an attempt to deprive the other spouse of their share of marital assets. While you and your spouse are married its presumed that either party can take money from the account. However, they cannot take the money out and secret it away in another account for the purpose of leverage in a divorce. Additionally, if they take the money out after the divorce is filed they may be in violation of the marital restraining order or automatic stay.

Oklahoma Automatic Stay and Divorce

In Oklahoma, as well as most other states, when a divorce case is filed, an automatic stay often goes into effect. You will sometimes here the stay referred to as a temporary restraining order or an injunction. In either case they are referring to the same thing the automatic stay. This stay is designed to prevent both spouses from taking actions designed to harm each other or the marital estate. Some examples such as dissipating assets, destroying each others property or emptying out bank accounts. The stay even includes issues related to child custody. The basic premise is that nothing should happen outside of what occurred prior to the divorce filing. If one spouse empties a bank account in violation of the automatic stay, they may be subject to legal penalties, including fines or orders to reimburse the other spouse for the amount taken.

Penalties For Emptying Bank Accounts In Divorce

Should a spouse empty the joint account after the divorce is filed or without a Temporary Financial Order, this could be viewed as a violation of Oklahoma law. The violation could end up in a contempt of court citation being filed with the courts. If the Courts finds that one of the parties to the divorce willfully violated the automatic stay by emptying the bank accounts in divorce that party could face sanctions. They may even have to pay attorneys fees of the other party, as the courts can order payment for waste, neglect, or destruction of marital property. The court can adjust the property division or require payment to offset the unilateral depletion of marital assets.

Tulsa Okla. Divorce Attorneys Near You

Divorce proceedings can be complex, and when it comes to financial matters, the stakes are high. While a spouse in Oklahoma may technically have the right to withdraw all the money from a joint account, doing so without the other spouse’s knowledge or consent may be viewed unfavorably by the courts. If done after the divorce is filed is worse and could lead to financial penalties. Always consult with a qualified family law attorney when it comes to navigating the complex financial waters of divorce. Remember, while the initial fear of a spouse draining a joint account can be stressful, Oklahoma law provides avenues for recourse. To learn more, call the Tulsa divorce attorneys at Kania Law Office. Dial it, (918) 743-2233 or contact us online.

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