If you are about to divorce, you may have read that you should close any joint accounts you share with your spouse. That certainly seems sensible, as the whole idea of divorce is to disentangle your personal and financial lives.
You might even feel like it’s urgent to close the accounts, especially if you fear your spouse will try to drain the funds to gain an advantage over you or punish you. Yet, closing the joint accounts is definitely not something to rush ahead with, as doing so could cause you legal problems.
It’s not entirely your account alone to close
Maybe you want it closed, but your spouse does not. You can’t make that decision alone, as the bank might require both of your signatures to close the account.
Even if you can, it’s probably still unwise. Your spouse could tell a court that you cut them off from joint funds, leaving them struggling to pay for separate living or divorce costs. It could be viewed as financial abuse and controlling behavior, which won’t help your cause.
Moving the money elsewhere could be seen as trying to hide it
If you close the savings account, for example, you need to put the money from it somewhere. If your spouse knows nothing about any of this, they may claim you were trying to hide assets to avoid sharing them in the divorce. That could lead a court to penalize you.
You will need to close your joint accounts eventually, but it’s best to get legal guidance so that you can understand how to do so without causing yourself unnecessary problems. In the meantime, open a new account in your own name so that you can start to build a financial life apart form your spouse.