Since family finances are arguably a primary source of discord among spouses in marriage, it’s hardly surprising that disagreements and misunderstandings over money play a significant role in many divorce proceedings as well.
Conflicts predictably arise when one spouse earns more than the other or when one has traditionally kept firm control over and access to the family’s accounts. When a spouse lacks access to the family’s bank accounts and financial assets, it often leads to inaction and feelings of powerlessness. Some delay taking steps to seek divorce because they erroneously believe that their lack of access to funds means they can’t pay for necessary legal representation. Spouses in such situations are often completely unaware of the family’s accounts, liabilities, investments or even the amount of life insurance they have, as well as their ownership rights to these assets.
They’re also unaware that they have a legal right to those assets.
As a community property state, it’s important to know that couples in marriage share assets acquired during marriage. Once a divorce is filed, it is common to seek a court order releasing funds from the other spouse’s control in order to pay for attorney fees, as well as interim spousal support and expenses for children. While still married, for example, there is an expectation that spouses will share responsibility for health issues and expenses and ensure that children have health care coverage.
It’s important to discuss this issue with your attorney, as there are long-term implications for your financial well-being and credit rating. For instance, any mortgage obligations can negatively impact your credit rating if not paid, and there’s also risk that one spouse will drain accounts or hide assets.