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    September 8, 2015

    Handling Jointly Held Accounts Pending a Divorce

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    For most people, part of being married is having jointly held accounts. Many couples have joint bank accounts in which their paycheck is directly deposited, as well as jointly owned credit cards and lines of equity that are available to both parties. While the financial focus for many marriages is increasing jointly held assets, in a situation where a separation or divorce is looming, it becomes more about protecting your own assets. You may have heard horror stories in which one part of a divorcing couple empties all of the bank accounts or runs up the credit cards, leaving the other partner broke and holding the bill. If you’re anticipating or going through a divorce or separation, there are some steps you can take now to protect your interests in the future.

    Taking an Inventory of Your Assets

    Keeping good financial records of transactions and purchases and an inventory of your debts and assets is always a good idea, perhaps never more so than when contemplating a divorce. At any point in your marriage, it is never too late to establish proper record keeping procedures. This will help you to know at any given time what your assets and liabilities are, and will enable you to provide proof regarding your holdings if needed.

    One of the first things the court requires in divorce proceedings and as part of obtaining an Order for Separate Maintenance and Support in a signed and notarized Financial Declaration for each party. Each spouse fills in their appropriate part of the document, which requires information pertaining to income, expenses, and jointly held accounts and property. The court will use this document in determining the right to joint assets, as well as portioning liability for jointly held debts.

    Converting Jointly Held Accounts

    What can you do immediately to prevent your spouse from emptying your accounts? For starters, you may want to consider removing half of the balance from your current jointly held accounts. However, if you do so, makes sure you obtain photographic evidence of the account balance, both before and after the withdrawal. After that, open up a new account, in your name alone, and make sure you’ve notified your employer and filled out the appropriate forms so that no future funds will be deposited into the joint account.

    In addition, you should notify all credit cards and lenders to put a freeze on your accounts. Either close the accounts, or request that both parties be required to authorize and sign for any future purchases or lines of credit. By taking these steps, you’ll be protecting your legal rights, while being fair to your spouse and behaving in such a way as to avoid reproach from the court.

    What if you’re too late, and your spouse has either emptied your accounts or run up enormous credit card bills? Again, make sure you have thorough records and documents supporting your claims. Get transaction and balance histories showing the previous account balances, as well as the dates when withdrawals or purchases were made. Under the South Carolina Code of Laws, all jointly held marital property is subject to equitable distribution. If you can clearly show that your former spouse took more than their fair share of money or assets, you may be able to get the judge to resolve the discrepancy by dispersing additional property or assets to you in order to make up for the losses

    Contact A Skilled Greenville Family Law Attorney

    If you are contemplating a divorce or separation from your spouse, contact experienced South Carolina family law attorney Lauren Taylor.  At our office we know how contentious divorce settlements can get. We can provide the comprehensive legal service you need, while vigorously protecting and defending your rights. Serving the entire Upstate area, our Greenville office will guide you through the entire legal process, while always looking out for your best interests. Contact our office today for an initial consultation.