What to Do If Your Spouse Overspends from Joint Accounts during Divorce


Divorce is never an easy process, and matters can become even more complicated if one spouse decides to go wild with marital funds before the divorce case is finalized. Courts do not look favorably upon such behavior, and it could have significant consequences for the individual attempting to deplete marital assets to gain an advantage in the divorce settlement. In this article, we will explore the potential repercussions of such actions, ways to prevent them, and essential financial tips for managing money during divorce.

Understanding the Consequences of Misusing Marital Funds

Courts’ Perspective on Wasted or Misused Marital Assets

Courts have a responsibility to ensure a fair distribution of assets during divorce proceedings. If one spouse is found to have intentionally wasted or misused marital assets, the court may choose to award a larger share of those assets to the innocent party. This is done to prevent unfair advantages and protect both parties’ interests.

The Impact on Divorce Settlements

Misusing marital funds can have a significant impact on the divorce settlement. It may lead to bitter disputes, prolonged legal battles, and heightened emotional stress for both parties involved. To avoid such scenarios, it is crucial to take preventive measures.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can provide a degree of protection in case of a divorce. These legal agreements specify how marital assets would be divided if the marriage were to end. Couples can create these agreements before or after marriage to ensure a smoother process should they decide to part ways.

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What to Do If You Suspect Your Spouse is Overspending

Checking Bank Accounts and Credit Card Statements

If you suspect your spouse is overspending, a prudent step is to review joint bank accounts and credit card statements for any unusual or unexplained charges. Large withdrawals from joint accounts without proper explanations could indicate financial misconduct.

Gathering Documentation

Gather all relevant financial documents, such as bank statements, credit card bills, receipts, and any other evidence that could support your suspicions. Having this documentation ready will help you present a clear picture of the financial situation.

Seeking Advice from a Financial Adviser

If you are unsure about interpreting the financial documents, consulting a financial adviser can provide valuable insights and guidance. A professional can help you understand the implications and suggest the best course of action.

Hiring a Private Investigator

In cases where you suspect hidden assets or income, hiring a private investigator might be necessary. They can gather evidence through surveillance, providing valuable information for your divorce proceedings.

Initiating Conversation with Your Spouse

If you have sufficient evidence of overspending, consider discussing the matter with your spouse. Try negotiating an agreement on how to handle the debt post-divorce. If that is not possible, legal action may be necessary.

Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO)

Some states have guidelines for Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (ATRO) during divorce proceedings. These orders prohibit the misuse of marital funds and changes to insurance policies and retirement plans. Violating an ATRO can lead to contempt charges.

5 Tips for Managing Your Money During Divorce

Making and Sticking to a Budget

Creating a budget is crucial during a divorce. Determine essential expenses and avoid overspending to secure a stable financial future.

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Tracking Your Spending

Keep a close eye on your spending habits. Utilize financial tracking apps to monitor your expenses and make informed financial decisions.

Building an Emergency Fund

Prepare for unexpected expenses by building an emergency fund. Aim to save at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses to alleviate financial stress.

Closing Joint Accounts and Credit Cards

Close joint accounts and credit cards as soon as possible to prevent your spouse from accumulating debt in your name and safeguard your credit score.

Getting Help from a CDFA

Consider seeking assistance from a Certified Divorce Financial Advisor (CDFA). They can offer specialized financial guidance tailored to your unique situation.


Divorce is a challenging period, and financial disputes can exacerbate the stress. Misusing marital funds is not only unethical but can also have severe legal repercussions. By taking preventive measures, understanding your financial situation, and seeking professional advice, you can navigate through the divorce process more smoothly and protect your interests.


  1. What are prenuptial agreements, and how do they help in divorce?
    • Prenuptial agreements are legal contracts that outline the division of assets in case of a divorce. They provide protection and clarity in handling financial matters during the dissolution of a marriage.
  2. Are postnuptial agreements as effective as prenuptial agreements?
    • Yes, postnuptial agreements serve a similar purpose and are as effective as prenuptial agreements in safeguarding marital assets during divorce.
  3. What should I do if my spouse is overspending during the divorce process?
    • Start by gathering evidence and consulting a financial adviser. You may also consider discussing the issue with your spouse or taking legal action if necessary.
  4. How can an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO) help during a divorce?
    • An ATRO can prevent the misuse of marital funds and protect both parties’ financial interests during the divorce proceedings.
  5. How can a Certified Divorce Financial Advisor (CDFA) assist during a divorce?
    • A CDFA can offer expert financial advice tailored to your specific situation, helping you make informed decisions and secure your financial future.
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