Washington women who are a secondary breadwinner or not employed during their marriage may have trouble getting the funds they need to pay their monthly expenses during divorce proceedings. Though they may be entitled to at least half of the cash held in joint accounts, they have to be aware of the rules regarding community property.
Timing is very important for women who need the funds in a joint bank account because a restraining order may prevent either party from accessing money in joint accounts after the case is filed with the court. The money must be withdrawn before the divorce papers are filed. If the husband is not aware that the woman is planning to file for divorce, a sudden withdrawal of half of the funds in a joint account may raise his suspicions and result in him withdrawing money from other accounts.
There are many expenses that need to be taken care of during a divorce, including the mortgage payment and utility bills, children's expenses and attorney fees. Having access to cash is essential. In a contentious divorce, it may be difficult for the wife to obtain the money she needs for immediate expenses.
An attorney with experience in complex property division divorce cases may be able to advise a woman who does not have her own source of support on the complexities surrounding the withdrawal of money from joint bank accounts. Divorce is a sensitive matter that many first-timers could have trouble with. An attorney may walk a client through the process to help them get their fair share of the martial assets.
Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: When Can You Withdraw Funds From Joint Accounts?", Jeff Landers, September 17, 2013