How To Deal With Joint Bank Account During Separation

Studies have shown that relationships that last for more than one year often include financial entanglements between the parties involved. Usually, this means having a joint bank account as well as co-ownership of the family house and cars, or even a credit card.

However, when the relationship turns sour, and both parties agree to go separate ways, the joint accounts and property ownerships often cause them to engage their separation lawyers Melbourne to represent them. Some people are uncertain about the legislation governing shared financial access. Not always the case, though, as most individuals are aware that there is a procedure for dividing assets and determining who gets what.

This article aims to provide guidance and answers to the most common questions people ask the separation lawyers Melbourne regarding the funds in their joint accounts and access to it.

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Each Owns the Full Amount

A joint bank account gives both owners equal access to the funds, i.e. they each own the total amount in the account, not half of it each. To put it another way, whoever manages to go to the bank first may legally empty the joint account.

In this case, the party who didn’t take the money would need to take further measures to defend their interests. It’s important to note that the bank and the police would not be held responsible for resolving the issue. 

The good thing is, the Family Law Act of 1975 gives judges the authority to deal with this problem on an interim or final basis, as the case may be. So even if one party transfers funds from the joint account to their own, the Court has the authority to issue orders, such as requiring that the money be paid to the other party or portion thereof, prohibiting that person from further dealings with the said account, or ordering that the funds be placed in a trust fund until all issues have been resolved with the Court. 

Separation lawyers Melbourne should inform their clients regarding this law so they can focus more on the Court requirements rather than worrying about the money in the account.

One does not Necessarily Own What the Other has

Passwords, PIN codes, and other financial access information are often exchanged among married couples, de facto partners, and others in similar close situations. People who are married or committed to a long-term de facto relationship, especially those who have been together for several years, consider themselves entitled to equal property rights. This isn’t the case at all!

The mere fact of being married or in a relationship does not confer any kind of property rights to either party. If an asset is not explicitly co-owned, it usually is possessed only by one of the parties, even if they have access to it together.

Using a partner’s credit card, bank account, or making a bank transfer may have been accepted throughout the relationship if the owner explicitly or implicitly authorised it. Otherwise, if the owner hasn’t given due permission, then accessing the account in the method described above may be considered theft and might lead you to legal trouble outside the expertise of your separation lawyer Melbourne. Besides, separated people shouldn’t use their ex-partner’s credit cards or accounts unless they have written permission to do so.

The Court Decides

As long as the Court adheres to being fair and equity, it can take what is yours and give it to the other party, which is what the Family Law Act of 1975 allows.

In addition to the Court powers mentioned above, the Court also can safeguard property that may be allocated between the spouses or parties to the relationship until all of the issues are addressed.

To minimise unneeded expenditures and aggravation, and to avoid Court, individuals can also adopt the following measures on their own:

Suppose you’re unsure about anything with regards to handling your joint account after a divorce or separation. In such a case, it would help if you could call us or visit our office to talk to a separation lawyer Melbourne for guidance before you do anything.

Call us for a free call with out expert legal team!

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