If you are considering ending your marriage, you might be wondering what happens if a spouse drains a bank account before a divorce is finalized or even filed. In short, whether a spouse can (or should) empty a bank account before a divorce depends on many factors, one of which is whether the funds are clearly your separate, non-marital property, and whether the spouse can prove that in court. There are also many other considerations under the “should a spouse do this” column.
So, the answer will ultimately depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. Thus, you should speak with an experienced family law and divorce attorney before making any significant financial transactions, as doing this can be fraught with risk.
If you are in the process of getting divorced or planning to pursue one soon, there are a few things you should know. Use our guide to learn more about whether and to what extent a spouse can empty a bank account before a divorce. Then, speak with an attorney in The Larson Law Office to discuss your rights and options.
Can I Empty A Bank Account Before Divorce? Separate vs. Community Property
Whether one spouse can empty a bank account before finalizing or filing for divorce in Texas will depend primarily on how the money in the account is classified. Under Texas law, marital property is considered either separate or community property.
Texas Family Code § 3.002 defines community property as any property other than separate property that either spouse acquires during the marriage.
Importantly, if one spouse attempts to transfer community property with the intent to injure the rights of the other spouse while a divorce is pending, such transfer can come under significant court scrutiny under Texas law. Accordingly, depending on your goals and intent, emptying a bank account composed of community property funds can result in negative consequences from a court..
Texas Family Code § 3.001 specifies that a spouse’s separate property consists of the following:
- Property owned or claimed by that spouse prior to entering into the marriage;
- Property acquired by that spouse during the marriage by gift, devise, or descent; or
- Compensation recovered by that spouse for personal injuries sustained during the marriage, other than compensation received due to loss of earning capacity.
There is a presumption of community property under Texas Family Code § 3.003, which states that “property possessed by either spouse during or on the dissolution of marriage is presumed to be community property.”
When You File for Divorce, What Happens to the Money in Your Bank Account?
When a spouse files for divorce in Texas, it is rare that anything will happen to the money in bank accounts automatically. In most cases, spouses will still have full authority to manage their own accounts containing separate property. Also, spouses will have the ability to manage day-to-day expenses of community property, but spouses continue to have the fiduciary responsibility to preserve community property assets during the divorce. The court also has the ability to order community property assets distributed in temporary orders.
Contact The Larson Law Office Today
If you are considering a divorce from your spouse, give The Larson Law Office a call. Attorneys Diana and Erik Larson have been helping clients in and near Houston, TX, as they navigate the complexity of divorce for years. We pride ourselves on providing personalized and attentive service to each of our clients, and we hope we have the opportunity to do the same for you.
Contact our team today for a free consultation and to see how we can help you move forward.