What to Do if My Spouse Emptied My Bank Account (2024)


Many married couples have joint bank accounts. Each spouse has the right to make deposits into the account, and, each spouse has the right to withdraw from the account any amount up to the total balance.

It’s common for married spouses to have joint accounts for practical and romantic reasons. Practically, the couple is pooling their resources to pay all their shared bills, such as rent or mortgage, motor vehicle payments, and living and childcare expenses. Romantically, joint accounts also support that both spouses are in the marriage equally– even if one makes more money than the other.

Joint accounts typically work well while a marriage is strong. But, when a marriage is crumbling, one spouse might attempt to act fast and withdraw part or all the funds in the account—no matter how they got there. One spouse usually makes large withdrawals during a separation or a divorce to help them move while leaving the other to suffer economically. Most of the time, aggressively withdrawing from a joint bank account won’t give that spouse a long-term advantage, and they could face severe legal ramifications for doing so.

Joint Bank Accounts are Marital Property Under Texas Laws

Under Texas laws, joint bank accounts are marital property. When it comes to asset division, both spouses have a legal claim to their joint assets. Property is only separate property if it came through inheritance or belonged to one spouse before they got married. Family court judges consider any deposits made to a joint bank account proof that the funds were marital property, not separate property.

Family courts have the authority to review the value of all marital property before finalizing the divorce, including the value of any jointly held bank accounts. The judge also has the duty and authority to divide the funds equitably. Keep in mind that equitably does not mean equally. For instance, a family court judge might decide one spouse should be awarded 60 percent of the marital property, including joint bank accounts, and not an equal 50 percent.

How Family Courts Handle Funds Withdrawn from Joint Accounts

When one spouse withdraws a large amount of money from a joint account during the process of divorce or separation, the family court judge has the discretion to:

  • Order them to deposit the money back into the account.
  • Order them to give the other spouse something of equivalent value.
  • Order them to pay legal fees, fines, and other court-ordered sanctions.
  • Penalize the spouse in the calculation of equitable division—for example, instead of receiving 50 percent, a spouse who withdraws funds could receive a lower percentage.

Sometimes judges, at the request of experienced Texas divorce lawyers or on their own order, will issue mutual restraining orders against removing any joint funds while a divorce or separation is ongoing. Although, there may be pre-approved withdrawal exceptions, such as paying a mortgage or other joint debts.

Did Your Spouse Withdraw Money? Contact a Texas Divorce Attorney at Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC Today

If you find out that your soon-to-be ex-spouse has withdrawn an unusual amount of money from your joint bank account, arrange to speak with a seasoned Texas divorce lawyer at our firm as soon as possible. Contact Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC today at (210) 222-9132 or online.

What to Do if My Spouse Emptied My Bank Account (2024)


What to Do if My Spouse Emptied My Bank Account? ›

If you suspect your spouse is already taking money from the account or they have already withdrawn all the funds from your joint accounts, seek legal advice as soon as possible.

What to do if your spouse drains your bank account? ›

To ensure that this money is not dissipated and/or concealed, the best thing one can do is to speak with a divorce lawyer. By doing so, that spouse can file a motion of contempt and, in doing so, move forward with the divorce.

Can my wife empty my bank account? ›

Many married couples have joint bank accounts. Each spouse has the right to make deposits into the account, and, each spouse has the right to withdraw from the account any amount up to the total balance.

Can a spouse withdraw money without permission? ›

When a married couple opens a joint account together, they both have equal access to funds without each other's consent. Regular bank accounts, on the other hand, are owned by one person who has complete control over the account. Only the account holder can authorize transactions to and from that account.

Can my spouse remove me from your bank account? ›

In Most States, Banks Do Not Let You Remove a Spouse Without Their Consent. The vast majority of banks do not allow account holders to remove a spouse from a joint checking account without their consent, though there are some exceptions, depending on your state and the nature of the account.

Can I sue someone for taking money from a joint account? ›

If your ex-partner takes money from your joint account or runs up debt on your joint credit card without your permission, you may be able to sue them in court. However, it can be difficult to win these cases. You should consult with an attorney to discuss your legal options.

What if my husband takes money from joint account? ›

Equitable distribution

Typically, the court will award each spouse half of the money held in a joint account. Even if one of you decided to take the money out to spite the other (or to cover immediate expenses), that person would have to cough up 50% to make the other person whole.

Do I have a right to my husband's money? ›

Being legally married means your spouse's income (and debt) are now yours. If one of you runs up a huge credit card bill, you are both on the hook when the bill comes due. The good news is that many couples can cooperate and work together to address financial issues early in their marriage.

Can a wife withdraw money from a joint account? ›

Each account owner can get a debit card, write checks and make purchases. Both account holders can also add funds or withdraw them from the account. The money in joint accounts belongs to both owners. Either person can withdraw or spend the money at will — even if they weren't the one to deposit the funds.

Can a spouse withhold money? ›

Withholding access to marital funds without cause may constitute financial abuse. This can be considered illegal, especially when used for control or punishment.

Can I sue my husband for hiding money from me? ›

A spouse may be charged with contempt of court and face fines and jail time. The court may require that the spouse who hid assets pay the legal and court costs of the other spouse and/or award all hidden assets or more marital assets to the other spouse.

Can a spouse have a secret bank account? ›

Legally speaking, there is nothing wrong with having a separate bank account. You aren't required to keep joint accounts or file joint tax returns. You aren't even required to legally tell your spouse about your secret account, that is, until divorce proceedings start.

What if my husband died and I am not on his bank account? ›

If a bank account has no joint owner or designated beneficiary, it will likely have to go through probate court. Joint accounts would not necessarily go through the same probate process.

Can my wife take half my bank account? ›

California Divides Joint Bank Accounts 50/50 in Most Divorces. California's property division law is different than in most other states. Rather than dividing assets and debts according to what is fair or equitable, the courts in California split everything down the middle.

How do I protect my bank account in a divorce? ›

How Do I Protect Myself Financially From My Spouse During a...
  1. Create a Financial Plan for Your Divorce. ...
  2. Open Your Own Bank Account. ...
  3. Separate Your Debt. ...
  4. Monitor Your Credit Score. ...
  5. Take an Inventory of Your Assets. ...
  6. Review Your Retirement Accounts. ...
  7. Consider Mediation Before Litigation. ...
  8. Popular Family Law Articles.
Aug 9, 2023

Can a poa withdraw money from a joint bank account? ›

Each person on the account has the legal authority to use the entire account balance for any reason. In contrast, a person holding a power of attorney also has access to the grantor's bank account, but he or she is legally required to use those funds for the benefit of the grantor.

What happens if someone drains your bank account? ›

Your bank should refund any money stolen from you as a result of fraud and identity theft. They should do this as soon as possible - ideally by the end of the next working day after you report the problem.

What is considered bank account abuse? ›

Account abuse is when a bank believes that a consumer has not complied with the terms of that account (e.g., unpaid overdrafts or unpaid fees). Fraud includes instances that the bank or credit union says were intentional consumer fraud (e.g., check fraud).

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