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Pennsylvania divorce: Should you withdraw from joint accounts?

A fear that divorcing women around the country and in Pennsylvania have is how they are going to pay for their living expenses and an attorney before any temporary order can be put into place. One way is to remove money from the couple's joint accounts in anticipation of a divorce filing. However, this does come with some risks and rules.

Most states restrict withdrawals from joint accounts once a divorce proceeding has been filed. Therefore, the timing of the withdrawal is critical. It has to be done before proceedings are filed. This, too, is not always as easy as it sounds.

Withdrawing money before a divorce is filed could send a message to the other spouse that the party that withdrew the money is expecting a contentious divorce. This could cause unneeded and undesired animosity between the parties. It could also cause the other party to move money out of his or her separate accounts so that it may not be easily found during later proceedings.

Then there is the question of how much money to take out. A relatively safe estimate is 50 percent of the balance in the account. However, this could end up causing the couple more problems if there are outstanding charges on the account and are no other accounts to cover the shortage. In some cases, it may be possible to remove all of the money in a joint account depending on the rest of the couple's financial situation.

Getting a Pennsylvania divorce can be a financially scary prospect. Without having access to the necessary funds to sustain a household, getting through each day can seem debilitating. Knowing that it is possible to obtain funds prior to filing for divorce, before temporary orders are issued, can help make the process less intimidating.

Source: Forbes, Divorcing Women: When Can You Withdraw Funds From Joint Accounts?, Jeff Landers, Sept. 17, 2013

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