Can my sisters husband withhold access to money during divorce?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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