If I told my husband that I’m leaving him, can he take a vehicle that he bought for me and take money from our joint account?

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If I told my husband that I’m leaving him, can he take a vehicle that he bought for me and take money from our joint account?

I’m in a verbal abusive marriage but I have given up my job and car pretty much my entire life to stay at home and care for my husband’s daughter while he focused on his career. Now I’m trying to leave but he is saying he will stop direct deposit into our joint account and I can’t have the car which he purchased for me. The car is in his name but I’m insured on it. I have no other transportation.

Asked on July 6, 2015 under Family Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The answer is both yes and no. If he is the owner of the car and part owner on the joint account, he can take the car and money from the account; he also is not required by law to keep depositing into the account. That's the "yes" part of this answer.

However, once you divorce him, the distribution of property and likely his obligation to pay spousal support (e.g. alimony) will be influenced by assets he's already taken and/or the fact that he stopped supporting you even prior to the divorce. To take a very simple example: say that you had a joint bank account with $40,000 in it, but before the divorce, he pulled out $10,000 for his own personal benefit. If he hadn't taken the money, you each would have received $20,000; since he did pull out money, the court would likely give him (in the divorce) only $10,000 of the remaining $30,000, so that eac of you ultimately ended up with $20,000.

If he hasn't done these things yet, if you file your divorce action, it may be possible to get a court order (an "injunction") requiring him to keep thing status quo pending the resolution of the divorce. You should speak with a divorce or family law attorney right away, to review you options.


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