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Handling joint accounts in a divorce

41818583_S (1).jpgA divorce can be a long and expensive process. Many accounts and assets become frozen during division and cannot be withdrawn from. An Illinois resident who is considering divorce may want to take preemptive measures to secure funds from joint accounts, but caution is warranted.

If divorce is on the horizon, a person may consider withdrawing from joint accounts prior to the divorce process. Timing is very important because accounts can be restricted by an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order that prevents either spouse from withdrawing money or moving assets that would be considered for division. In some cases, these orders apply as soon as a divorce is filed, and in other cases, they may begin sometime after or at the request of a spouse.

There is then the question of how much money should be withdrawn from a joint account. Extra caution is warranted here. Legally, a spouse will probably be entitled to half the funds in an account, so withdrawing that amount is usually a safe call. However, asset division does not necessarily divide each individual account in half. Illinois law seeks equitable distribution, which means one spouse may get more from some accounts and less from others so long as the division is fair in the end.

It is important to obtain enough money to be financially secure during a divorce but not create extra legal hassle or animosity. A divorce attorney may be able to advise a client on withdrawing funds from joint accounts and what amount would be reasonable and safe for a particular client's situation. There may also other means of securing money during divorce proceedings that will not lead to disagreements or negative consequences.

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