When California couples begin the divorce process, one of the initial concerns for both parties is how to pay for legal fees surrounding the breakup. Living expenses and property division are other areas of concern. Financial issues concern women in particular, as they may have earned less money during the marriage or may not have worked at all. Some of these women, including those from affluent marriages, have no idea how much money is in bank or investment accounts or how they can access those funds.
Some individuals who are facing divorce may become victims of their soon-to-be ex-spouses who pull money out of joint accounts without their knowledge. Once couples file for divorce, however, withdrawing money from joint accounts could become restricted via an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order or ATRO. In California, ATROs are summarized on the back of the Summons of a Petition for Dissolution and remain in effect until the divorce is finalized.
Far from punishing divorcing couples, the purpose of an ATRO is to give courts a snapshot of the marriage’s financial condition. When facing divorce, the answers to when and how much money that individuals should withdraw from their joint accounts before an ATRO goes into effect vary and are best discussed with divorce and family law attorneys familiar with the statutes.
By giving the courts a fair indication of the divorcing couple’s financial condition, ATROs could help attorneys make informed arguments regarding alimony payments and child support. Divorce attorneys may be able to provide clients with advice on how much joint account money individuals will need as well as what they can reasonably expect from the division of marital assets.
Source: Forbes, “Divorcing Women: When Can You Withdraw Funds From Joint Accounts?“, Jeff Landers, September 17, 2013