Once you file for divorce in Illinois, it’s time to close your joint bank account. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as withdrawing half the money and then asking the bank to transfer the rest to your former spouse. In fact, taking money out of the account at the wrong time can be used against you in court. Here’s how you can safely get your money out of a joint account during a divorce.

What should you do with a joint bank account during a divorce?

If you and your spouse can remain civil, the best course of action is to go to the bank together, divide the funds and ask the bank to close the account. However, if the divorce isn’t amicable, you’ll have to talk to your attorney about your next steps.

One option might be calling the bank and asking to freeze the account. While it might be tempting to withdraw half the funds for yourself, or even take everything in the account, this can negatively affect your court case. The judge might charge you with criminal contempt for taking the assets instead of waiting for the judge to distribute them equally. You may be able to withdraw half the funds at some point, but always talk to your attorney before taking action.

Once the account is empty, you and your spouse will have to close it together. You don’t have to do it at the same time, but you both have to go to the bank and sign off on it. You’ll also have to open new accounts for your separate funds.

Is an attorney worth the extra cost?

A family law attorney might seem like an extra expense, but legal counsel may actually save you a lot of time and money in the long run. An attorney may offer advice and help you work toward the best outcome for your case.

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