Studies suggest that two-thirds (or more) of married couples primarily use joint financial accounts. You may have a joint checking account, joint savings account, and/or joint credit cards. One of the more challenging aspects of getting divorced is untangling all of these joint financial accounts. At Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd., we provide solutions-focused family & divorce representation in Southern Minnesota. Here, our Mankato family law attorney provides a guide to handling joint accounts during or after a divorce.
Know the Law: Marital Assets are Subject to Equitable Distribution
We live in an equitable distribution state. Under Minnesota law (Sec. 518.58 MN Statutes), a divorcing couple’s marital property is split up in an equitable (fair) manner. Each spouse will retain their full share of any separate property. An equitable distribution can be—but is not required to be—a 50/50 division.
When it comes to joint financial accounts, there is generally little question that they are a marital asset/marital liability. How exactly the proceeds (or balance) of such an account will be split depends on the specific factors of the case. Minnesota courts can consider a wide range of different factors when determining an equitable distribution of assets.
A Challenge: Managing Joint Finance Accounts While a Divorce is Pending
Even when both parties agree it is the right decision and are ready to reach an uncontested divorce settlement, it can still take a while for a divorce to be finalized in Minnesota. One of the challenges that divorcing couples face is managing joint accounts immediately prior to and during the actual divorce. In many cases, disputes arise over spending. The best practice is to limit additional spending as much as possible. Use joint accounts to pay pre-existing financial obligations—car payments, mortgages, regular grocery bills, etc. Assuming spouses can work together, they have the authority to manage joint financial accounts on their own while a divorce is still pending.
A Temporary Order May Be Necessary to Protect a Joint Account in a High Conflict Case
The unfortunate reality is that not every divorcing couple is able to manage joint financial accounts on their own immediately before and during the divorce process. For example, you may be dealing with an unreasonable spouse who starts racking up credit card debt on a jointly held account. When necessary, your family lawyer can seek a temporary order to protect accounts from abuse.
Further, if joint funds have already been spent in an unreasonable manner during the divorce process, you can seek a remedy during equitable distribution. For instance, if a spouse took out $10,000 in new credit card debt on a joint account to go gambling while your divorce is pending, a Minnesota court could potentially assign them sole responsibility for that debt.
Get Help From Our Mankato, MN Divorce Lawyer Today
At Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd., our Minnesota divorce attorneys have experience handling contested and uncontested divorce cases. If you have any specific questions or concerns about dealing with joint bank accounts or joint credit cards during a divorce, we can help. Contact our legal team now for a completely confidential case review. With legal offices in Mankato and Rochester, we provide family and divorce services throughout Southern Minnesota.