A joint bank account is one that is registered in the names of two people, each of whom has complete control over it.
In other words, either party can deposit or withdraw money without seeking permission from or even informing the other party. If your spouse took money out, it was most likely lawful.
Individual accounts are sometimes treated as joint accounts by married couples. It is not uncommon for them to have one or more bank accounts in their own names but allow the other spouse to use them as if they were joint accounts.
If your spouse withdrew funds named solely in your name without your authorization, the withdrawal may be illegal, although this depends on the circumstances.
For example, if you told your spouse that they could no longer use the bank account in your sole name, and they stole your corresponding debit card from your wallet and used it to withdraw money from an ATM, it may be considered theft.
If, on the other hand, you had not conveyed to your spouse that you no longer grant them such authorization, the withdrawal was most likely legal.
If your spouse illegally withdrew funds, you can report it as a felony. If your spouse is convicted, the criminal court will very definitely order them to repay you as part of their sentence.
Even if your spouse’s acts were legally lawful, or you understandably do not want to denounce their actions as a crime, you may be able to reclaim your money by filing a divorce petition.
In all states, a court can compensate you for the loss by either directly ordering that you recover the amount of money that was taken or by awarding you additional assets to compensate for the amounts that your spouse removed from the account.
The specific alternatives available are determined by the legislation in your jurisdiction.
If your spouse’s money withdrawal was legal, whether the divorce court compensates you for the loss will be determined by the reason for the withdrawal.
If the funds were used to pay joint debts, marital bills, or for the needs of your children, the court is unlikely to compensate you, even if you did not consent to your spouse’s use of the assets.
If, on the other hand, your spouse spent the money on an extravagant vacation around the world, they will almost certainly find a way to compensate you for the loss.
Although it may not always appear so, divorce courts often endeavor to find a way to make things fair. This is wonderful news if you recently discovered that your husband emptied your joint account.
While largely disposed of across the country, the concept of tort interspousal immunity may impact a claim for theft or fraud. This legal concept arose out of the belief that the married couple was one person, typically the identity of the male.
Therefore, the law opined that a spouse should not be able to sue himself. Furthermore, courts hypothesized that couples suing each other would cause discord in the marital home.
Many governments, however, have fully erased this immunity. Other states expressly specify in their tort statutes or common law that spouses may pursue tort claims against the other spouse, but they must be heard in a divorce proceeding.
Other courts enable such claims to be made throughout the marriage. Others distinguish between purposeful torts, such as conversion and battery, and unintentional torts, such as those arising from negligence claims.
If one spouse makes a major misrepresentation about the worth of assets or income during the marriage or divorce, a claim of fraud may arise.
Actual fraud occurs when an individual has the intent to cheat the other spouse and deprive the other spouse of the fair use and enjoyment of marital assets.
Alternatively, constructive fraud may be charged, which means that there was no malice intended but that the spouse should have understood that the conduct would fool the other spouse.
Fraud claims are mostly based on facts and state statutes. Some states have provisions that include marital fraud during divorce, which includes any transfers of marital assets that are not fair to the other party.
Bringing a fraud claim during the divorce process or after the final settlement may have an influence on a number of issues related to the divorce settlement. It can, for example, affect the amount of spousal support awarded.
Furthermore, rather than treating it as a 50/50 ownership under community property rules, some courts may transfer the entire value of the asset that has been hidden or disposed of to the injured spouse.