Money usually plays a vital part in all divorce proceedings. Next to child custody, money is one of the most fought about subjects in a divorce. Many people are unsure what to do about their bank accounts or finances when it comes time to file for a divorce. Whether you have a joint account with your spouse or have always maintained your own separate bank account, the truth is, the ins and outs of separating your “money” is not as simple as you would like to think.
In Georgia, any income earned by either spouse during the marriage is considered marital property that is subject to equitable (not equal) distribution in a divorce. This includes any earnings by either spouse deposited in the joint bank account or his or her individual account(s). If you are contemplating a divorce and wonder whether you should open your own separate bank account, the advice is: maintain the status quo until the divorce is finalized. If both you and your spouse’s earnings have always been deposited in the joint bank account, there is no reason for you to open up a separate bank account until the divorce is finalized or the logistics of who pays what bills have been figured out. If you and your spouse have always maintained separate bank accounts, then there is no need to open another bank account just because you are divorcing.
Like most things in life, there are always exceptions to the rule. In some cases, you should consider opening your own separate bank account if your earnings is the only source of income deposited in the joint account and your spouse is either unemployed or underemployed and has been “squandering” or removing the funds from the joint account without mutual agreement. Keep in mind though, the funds in your newly opened bank account may still be subjected to equitable division in a divorce.