Can I Sue My Spouse For Clearing Out Our Bank Account Before the Divorce?

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Can I Sue My Spouse For Clearing Out Our Bank Account Before the Divorce?

Divorces are always tough on everyone involved, but they become even more difficult when the couple can’t get along. Almost every married couple will have a joint bank account, but this can become problematic in an extremely messy divorce. Some circumstances could lead a spouse to wipe out the joint bank account. While it certainly possible to sue if this happens, there are several factors that determine if you will get the money back.

Was the Money Your Property?

The first factor that will be considered before determining if your spouse must return the money is this: is it reasonable to conclude that it was partially your property? While most money earned during a marriage is the property of both parties, there are two exceptions to this rule. If your spouse can provide proof that the money was given exclusively to them as an inheritance or a gift, then you may have no way to get the money back.

Community Property States

There are currently nine community property states in the USA. These states are Arizona, California, Washington, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana, Idaho and Wisconsin. These nine community property states essentially split all assets evenly among both spouses in a divorce. If you were living in one of these nine states, then you spouse will be forced to return your portion of the money during the divorce proceedings.

The Other 41 States

If you were living in one of the 41 non-community properly states when getting divorced, then getting your share of the money may be a bit trickier. Instead of splitting everything in half, the other 41 states use equitable distribution. This essentially means that the assets are divided in manner that the court thinks is fair. While it is possible for the money to be split in half, a few other factors are considered before dividing the assets. A large gap in earning potential and any mental or health problems are the two main factors that influence an uneven split among assets. Once the court determines the equitable distribution of your assets, then your spouse should be forced to return your share of the money in the bank account.

Why Was Money Taken?

The final factor that will be considered is the spouse’s reason for taking the money. If it was clearly done out of spite, then it should be no problem to get the money back in court. Your spouse has claim to the money if it was used to pay marital bills or a divorce attorney.


If you are concerned with securing your fortune or you are in the unfortunate situation of divorce, you need experienced legal representation like GillespieShields. Call us at 602-870-9700 (Phoenix) or 480-985-4000 (Mesa) or contact us to request a consultation today.


The information contained on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for legal advice concerning your individual situation. We welcome you to contact us via phone, electronic mail, or through this website. However, contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send us confidential information until such time as an attorney-client relationship is established.



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