Can my husband take money from me while separated?


#1

Hello,
My husband and I have been separated for 8 months, no kids, no retirement accounts, and we split the bank accounts 50/50 when I moved out. The house was his separate property from before we married, so he still lives there. We make about the same amount of money, although he makes slightly more. I know that he has depleted his half of the savings by buying garage tools for tinkering etc, while my half of the savings has grown by more than 50%.
If he finds this out, does he have a right to half of my money since we are technically still married, even though we started out with the same amount at the time of separation? I stayed with family for a few months in the beginning so I was able to save money there, but also I am just a better saver than he is.


#2

If the two of you divided the bank account assets in a separation agreement (or court order), then no, your husband is not entitled to half of the money that you’ve built up after the division. If you did not divide the bank account assets in a separation agreement (or court order), then those funds could still be considered marital property and be subject to equitable distribution (dividing property among spouses).


#3

Thank you for the prompt reply.

According to your response to my other question about 401(k) money, it would seem that any money earned after the date of separation would not be marital, is that right?
How is it that he is not entitled to money I sent to my 401(k), but he IS entitled to money I sent to my own bank account? (All after separation.)


#4

When you and your husband divided the bank accounts, you each took 50% of what is presumably marital funds in those accounts (because presumably those funds were earned during the marriage). If there is no separation agreement or court order, then those funds are still subject to equitable distribution because there has been no official division of marital property. However, if you opened your own bank account after the date of separation but continued to fund that account with money you earned after the date of separation, then your bank account has both marital property funds in it (because earned during the marriage and with no separation agreement/court order it has not been officially divided yet) and separate property funds in it (funds you earned after you separated). Without a separation agreement or court order, the marital property portion only could still be subject to equitable distribution.

Yes, you are correct that funds acquired/earned after the date of separation are separate property and not subject to equitable distribution (unless the funds were earned as a result of your effort during the marriage but received after the date of separation - like bonuses).

I hope this provides better clarification.


#5

Oh good, I think I understand now, thank you! But just to be sure:
Example:
At date of separation the joint account contained $10,000.
I remove $5,000 and open my own separate bank account with it.
6 months later my account contains $9,000, and the joint account that only my spouse is using now contains $3,500.
My spouse is not entitled to the $4,000 I added to my account since the date of separation, earned with my normal salary, no bonuses.
Technically, my spouse has SPENT $1,500 in marital funds since the date of separation.

If you could let me know if I am understanding this right, or if any part of what I said was incorrect, I would really appreciate it. Thank you for keeping up with this service, it is so helpful!


#6

Yes, you are right.

The $4,000 you’ve added to your bank account since the date of separation is your separate property as long as that money was earned after the date of separation, and your husband has spent a portion of the marital funds assuming no other monies were added to his account since the separation.