Most couples in a committed relationship will have one or more joint bank accounts. When you separate, or when you are beginning divorce proceedings, you may need to take steps to protect the money in your joint bank accounts. Not all separating couples need this, and many are able to successfully continue to share joint accounts. However, some couples simply cannot.
We recommend you contact your bank to arrange for the account (particularly any credit facilities which can be drawn down) to be changed so that dual signatories are required for any transfers or withdrawals.
This is important, because most joint bank accounts are set to only require one person to authorize transfers and withdrawals.
When you contact your bank they will advise you of any forms that need to be completed to process the change to require dual signatures.
When you are separating from your partner we also recommend that you open a new bank account solely in your own name. You should then direct any income or payments that you will be receiving, for example your salary, to your new account in your sole name.
If you already have an account solely in your name, then it’s also worth considering whether your partner has access to the account because they know your PIN or online banking login details. As a precaution, when you separate from your partner you should change your login details to prevent them from gaining access to your accounts.
Remember, the money that is in your bank accounts forms part of the joint property pool. Neither you nor your former partner have an automatic claim to any of the money just because you feel that you “earned it yourself”. Don’t go on a spending spree thinking the money is yours to do with what you like. The property pool needs to be assessed and divided up with a formal property settlement between you and your former partner.