Can someone legally cut off access to funds before separation? 23 Answers as of June 09, 2011

My sister and her husband have been married for 12 years. They are talking separation. They are still living together. He opened a new bank account and now has his check going into that account. My sister has no access to their money now. They have 2 children. He says she can ask him for money and he will give her what he thinks she should have. My question is can he legally do that when they are married and still living together.

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Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
Your sister should file for divorce or a legal separation and file a motion for temporary orders at the same time.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/9/2011
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
I don't see anything illegal there. However, if they were going through a divorce, there would be a status quo order that would prevent that activity. With two kids, they should try to work out there problems. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 6/8/2011
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
Technically, he is not violating any laws. However, your sister should consider consulting with an experienced family law attorney regarding her potential rights and options, if she is considering divorce (or he is). She can also file an action for support unconnected with a dissolution matter in order to establish child support and possibly alimony (if she has an entitlement to it). My office offers free initial telephone consultations if you would like to discuss this matter in more detail, as well as explore the potential rights and options available. If you would like to coordinate a free initial telephone consultation, please contact my office.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 6/7/2011
Deal & Hooks, LLC
Deal & Hooks, LLC | Shawn P. Hooks
A person is entitled to open an individual account even when married and deny the spouse access to those funds as long as there is no order. While the money is likely still considered a marital asset and could be subject to division by order of a court there is nothing preventing someone from doing this before a separation or divorce action is filed.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 6/7/2011
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
He can legally do that. Post-separation earnings are separate property of the earner. If your sister feels that she isn't getting enough money, she can file a divorce case and an Order to Show Cause (OSC) for Spousal Support, Child Custody, Child Support, and Attorney's fees and costs. She should at least consult, if not retain, an experienced Family Law Attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/7/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Yes, he can do that, but if he unreasonably withholds money from her, then that's when the Courts will take a dim view of his actions when the case goes into court during a divorce. Tell her to speak to a matrimonial attorney. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Sure but the court might not like that he did this. She should file asap and move for temporary orders asking for child support and maintenance.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Yes. Unless or until there is a court order, any party with access to accounts may modify them, liquidate them or manipulate them. The remedy is to file for a divorce or legal separation and file a Motion for temporary relief.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Apple Law Firm PLLC
    Apple Law Firm PLLC | David Goldman
    If your sister is not receiving enough money or does not think the arrangement is fair, she should talk with a family law attorney about what options she has.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Berner Law Group, PLLC
    Berner Law Group, PLLC | Jack Berner
    Parties can misbehave and be selfish while married. That's what legal separation and divorce are designed to remedy. If your sister resides in Western Washington, feel free to have her contact my office for a free, no obligation consultation-by phone or in person-about this situation.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    Under Washington law the funds belong to both of them, but she may need to file a divorce or legal separation in order to bring a motion for temporary orders to have a court order how the funds should be used (or restricted). She may also want to check with the institution to see if she can still access the funds as a spouse.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law
    Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law | Gregory T. Buckley
    Unfortunately, this can be a common occurrence. Even if one party begins to divert their paycheck into a new account, they are not relieved of their responsibilities to help pay marital bills and liabilities. Also, their income continues to be considered a marital asset.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    He can. If she doesn't like that she needs to get a lawyer and file for divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    Your sister has a choice: she can accept what her husband has offered or she can go to a local domestic relations lawyer. In Michigan or Ohio the lawyer can guide her through legal separation and divorce options, and can in any case ask the Court to force the husband to provide a proper amount of money for her to live during the litigation.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    I would recommend that your sister retain a divorce attorney as soon as possible to help her as to this and any other issues. Generally, in Georgia, it takes at least 30 days to get to the first hearing, but there may be other steps her divorce attorney can take to help her. But without question, the best advice I can give is to hire a divorce attorney! Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law | William C. Gosnell
    Yes hire a divorce lawyer and get a court order for child support and spousal support.
    Answer Applies to: Tennessee
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    Yes he can do this, but that isn't exactly conducive to saving a marriage. If your sister is looking for an attorney and is in my area, please have her contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell | Richard B. Kell
    I am sorry to hear about your sister's situation. Unfortunately, I have seen many women in this situation (where the husband is very controlling emotionally and with money). However, in the cases I have dealt with thus far, many women who find themselves stuck in these situations are usually too afraid to take any action. So, the answer to your question is *yes -* he can (and will) do what he is doing for as long as she lets him. A marriage of that duration certainly raises a strong possibility for court-ordered spousal support (in addition to child support). But your sister will have to really be serious about getting out of the relationship. I recommend that she start by consulting a divorce attorney in much more detail to determine what her best course of action would be.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Naomi Hirayasu Attorney at Law
    Naomi Hirayasu Attorney at Law | Naomi Hirayasu
    Yes. You can hire a lawyer and seek court orders. Call me.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    Yes but he has a duty to support her so she can go to court and ask for an order of support.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    The simple answer is yes. Until she files for a divorce or legal separation and obtains a court order setting out specifically what he has to give her, he has control over his money and can use that control however he chooses. There are no rules that control what a spouse is required to do in a marriage. If one spouse doesn't like what the other one chooses to do, and they can't work out something mutually acceptable, that spouse ought to either accept it or end the marriage.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    In Georgia the answer I'd yes, he can legally do that.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law | Edward A. Kroll
    Yes. There is no law that says his paycheck is joint property. If they do proceed with divorce, she would likely be entitled to spousal support (alimony) and child support, as well as possibly some of his assets (e.g. 401k, retirement, etc). But he is allowed to partition his own funds. Now, if he somehow diverted HER paycheck into this account and didn't allow her access to the money she earned, then that would be actionable. Your sister should talk to a family law attorney as soon as she can.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/6/2011
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