Can my husband legally cut me off from all the money in our joint bank accounts?

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Can my husband legally cut me off from all the money in our joint bank accounts?

My husband lives in a nursing home. We’ve been living apart for 3 years now, and because of circumstances that really have no relevance to this question, I have decided to divorce him. He got very angry and has cut off my access to our joint bank accounts. He changed the online passwords and made the accounts restricted so I can’t check the balances with my debit card or on the phone. One bank is in the state where we used to live but the other is local. Can go in and withdraw money from that account? However, he moves the money out of the accounts so I can’t get any. I am about to lose my state health insurance because he refuses to give me

the money to pay for it, and if I lose it for non-payment, I can’t re-join for 6 months. I’m diabetic, and this would be disastrous for me. Is there a way I can force him to pay for the very few bills that I have personally? I’ve already had to move in with my parents because he quit paying the rent and utilities,and I don’t yet have a job, although I have an interview coming right up. However, I doubt I’d get paid in time to pay these bills, even if I get the job. In the event that I’m simply out of luck and can’t do anything about it I’ve applied to 2 legal aid services; 1turned me down even with no income, and the other one said it could take up to a year. I’m trying the pro bono society next and hopefully I can find an attorney through them. Until then, though, I can’t file for a divorce. Can you at least tell me what penalties this behavior will incur when we

finally get to court? Maybe I could show him this and get him to see reason. Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated


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Asked on July 2, 2016 under Family Law, Indiana


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Until there is a court order that says otherwise, either party to the marriage can shift or use funds.  So, you withdrawing funds is legal.  Your husband withdrawing funds is legal.  However, you are not without a remedy.  You need to file for divorce asap, get temporary orders in place, and have the court put in restrictions regarding the use of any assets while the divorce is pending.
The process starts with a basic petition.  The petition is your wish list to the court that tells the judge what you want.  The petition should include your request for temporary orders.  If you can get assistance through a local pro bono or legal aid program, that's a good start.  More district clerks are also providing basic forms to individuals to file or start their own divorce actions. 

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