Can I take my soon-to-be ex-spouse's name off our joint checking account?

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Question:

My husband and I are not divorced yet, but we're well on our way. We have a number of joint accounts, including a joint checking account. The money in the account is mine, but I'm afraid he's going to use it. Yesterday I went to the bank to take him off the account. They said they needed my husband's permission. Maybe I'm volatile these days, but I got upset and stormed out. Now I'm thinking maybe they were right. Any advice?

Answer:

Your bank was probably right. The only way you can take a joint account-holder's name off the account without permission is if your original contract with the bank specifically allows this -- but most contracts don't and yours probably doesn't. The underlying reason is obvious -- you wouldn't have wanted your husband to march into the bank a day before you and take your name off the account.

You may, however, be able to do an end run around this system. Go back to the bank and politely ask to close the joint account. Then transfer the money to another account in your name only. The only catch is that your husband may still claim rights to the money during the divorce proceedings. Be prepared to show that it was really yours and yours alone.

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