Can my sisters husband withhold access to money during divorce?

My sister is in the process of divorcing her
husband at her request. Neither have gotten
lawyers yet. They’ve been married for almost
nine years and she’s been a stay at home mom
for six of those years. Her husband found
paperwork that she opened her own checking
account which has a balance of 150 money
given to her by our mother. Her husband
recently took her debit card out of her purse
and won’t give it back and also canceled her
credit cards. She’s a stay at home mom and
recently got a part time job but hasn’t gotten
her first pay check yet. She’s the primary
caregiver of their eight year old son. Legally
can he do that to her?? We live in New Jersey.
Thanks for your advice.

Asked on June 19, 2017 under Family Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, he legally may not, but the only way to stop him from doing this is through the courts. If she has already filed her divorce action, she can bring a motion within that case seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO), then a preliminary injunction (both are court orders, but the TRO is usually granted first, to initially stop someone from being taken advantage of or suffering losses pending hearings and a decision on the matter, then after hearings, it is solidified as an injunction). The TRO and injunction will "enjoin," or order, her husband to stop him from preventing her access to the family's/couple's money pending the resolution of the divorce, the final distribution of the assets, and the ordering of any spousal support (e.g. alimony) or child support. 
If she has not yet filed the divorce case, she needs to do so; then she can bring the motions and seek the orders protecting her access to the funds.
She is legally allowed to bring these actions/motions herself and could get instructions from the family court (e.g. the clerks' office or website), but is *strongly* encouraged to get a family or divorce law attorney to help her.


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