A recent article on Forbes brought to life a nuanced-but-very important aspect of filing divorce papers. Exactly how much money should you withdraw if you have plans (or you feel your spouse may have plans) to bring about the dissolution of your marriage?
This is a very important question to answer because divorce takes time to finalize, and you will need to go on with life as usual as it plays out through the courts system, whether you’re locked in a sustained battle or going the simple online divorce route.
Caveat Of Taking Half
Technically, you’ll be entitled to half of any community property, but you have to be careful with this line of thinking, according to California divorce attorney Kelly Chang Rickert of the Law Offices of Kelly Chang.
“Prior to any divorce papers being filed, you can withdraw any amount you’d like… However, after the divorce papers are filed, certain restraining orders kick into place.”
Chang acknowledged that you can withdraw “up to 50 percent,” but warned, “the problem is, the other spouse may have reimbursement claims, etc., and because there is a restraining order, you may run into problems if you have a vindictive ex.”
The bottom line, Chang says, is to “Withdraw any and all funds you deem necessary prior to filing a divorce. That way you don’t run into any problems with violating court orders and such.”
Starting Off Your Case On The Wrong Foot
Another California divorce attorney, Laura A. Wasser, author of the upcoming book, It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way: How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself, agrees that legally you can withdraw funds prior to filing.
However: “This could very well start the case off in the wrong way … as husband would feel that she was divorce planning and seek vengeance. I generally recommend an advance distribution of funds at the outset of a case if my client feels that maintaining expenses will be difficult during the pendency of the proceeding. Obviously a lot depends on the parties and their respective personalities.”
Whether you sense that it’s something you’re spouse is about to do or you’re finally ready to take the step yourself, withdraw what you will need early on before the divorce papers are even filed. However, be cautious of how much you take and the circumstances by which you go about it.
Revenge can get very expensive for both parties in a divorce.