Most couples have one or more joint bank accounts that they use during their marriage. Each spouse can withdraw funds, make deposits, and transfer funds from one account to another. The accounts are typically used to pay joint living expenses and other bills, like car payments, utility bills, mortgage payments, credit card payments, and so on.
Joint accounts are never an issue when everything is fine in the marriage. Yet, when problems start occurring and the marriage breaks down leading to separation and divorce, things are another matter.
Divorce can be messy and stressful when the marriage has gotten to the point things are no longer amicable. One issue that arises is when your spouse empties joint bank accounts and moves the money into individual accounts in their name.
In Ontario, joint bank accounts are considered marital assets. This means that each person has a right to a percentage of the money in the joint accounts in most cases. There can be some exceptions, like if the money came from an inheritance.
If you find out your spouse emptied the joint bank accounts, and have not yet started the divorce process, the first thing you need to do is contact a divorce lawyer immediately. There may be options where your lawyer can file an emergency motion with the family court.
Additionally, you should gather all bank records for the affected accounts showing when the withdrawals were made, by whom, and the amount. Next, you will want to set up individual banking accounts in just your name.
In general, as part of the divorce settlement, and upon financial review, your spouse can be required to return your portion of the money they took from the joint accounts. Alternatively, you may accept marital assets of an equal value.
You may also request they pay your legal fees, court costs, and other divorce-related expenses for part of the money they owe you.
Alternatively, if you already know your marriage is heading for a divorce, do not wait until your spouse empties the banking accounts. Be proactive and contact a divorce lawyer to discuss options to get an order to prevent the withdrawal of any money from joint accounts, except to pay joint expenses.
As part of your divorce settlement, all joint bank accounts are closed. Any funds in the accounts are distributed based on the settlement agreement. Stocks, bonds, and other such investment accounts are also dissolved with the assets transferred into individual accounts.
Whether you recently discovered your spouse emptied the joint banking accounts, are worried they will do so once they are served divorce papers, or you know they are getting ready to file for divorce, you need to speak with an experienced family law and divorce lawyer Toronto as soon as possible. Feel free to contact Davies Law Firm in Toronto by calling (416) 363-0064 today! We can provide you with the legal advice and guidance you need, as well as ensure your interests are protected.