Some divorce lawyers encourage their clients to empty out the joint bank accounts, “before your spouse does it.” This is a declaration of war, equivalent to pushing the red button.
In many jurisdictions, when one person petitions for divorce, the judge enters a standing temporary order, instructing the clients not to dissipate marital assets, not to take all the money and run, etc. The one who unilaterally empties the joint bank accounts will lose credibility in the judge’s eyes. If your matter ends up in trial, the judge will be the decision-maker, and you want him or her to view you favorably. Furthermore, your spouse will know that assets are missingand will inevitably wage a search mission to find the assets. This will cost you both more in attorney’s fees and discovery costs, and it will delay the conclusion of your case.
You are usually not entitled to more than fifty percent of the marital assets, so you will eventually be forced to return them. In the meantime, by hiding the assets, you will have completely destroyed your relationship with your ex, and perhaps with your children. In a divorce, it is important to see the bigger picture and to understand that there is life after divorce. You don’t want to destroy your relationships because of the inappropriate way you acted while your marriage was dissolving.
If you are truly worried, dig up and copy your family’s m
ost recent financial information. Inventory and photograph your family’s valuables. Move fifty percent of the liquid funds into an individual account, and don’t forget to meet with a financial planner, afterwards.
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About this week’s authors: Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as professor in law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.