Divorce can get messy. But many spouses work out their settlement with amicability – or at least civility. Yet your spouse might be out to “win” divorce at all costs. They may even try and hurt you by emptying joint checking and savings accounts before filing.

You may fear for your financial future if your spouse tries to leave you destitute. But they may end up being the one paying in the long run. You can keep these tips in mind if your spouse tries to run off with your joint assets.

Your spouse can only withdraw so much

Your bank will not prevent your spouse from emptying joint accounts before divorce. But once divorce begins, neither of you can withdraw more than half of these accounts’ total contents. By Ohio law, joint accounts qualify as marital property. This property is subject to equal division in divorce. Thus, your spouse’s account emptying could appear punishable in the eye of the court.

Your spouse’s withdrawal may break the law

Threat of punishment may not convince your spouse to release the withdrawn assets. And if they were your household’s primary earner, they may consider these assets theirs. Ohio is an equitable distribution state. Therefore, you remain entitled to a fair portion of them regardless. As a penalty, your spouse may have to pay you more than if they hadn’t emptied your joint accounts. If they continue withholding the funds, they could face prison time.

You may feel helpless when you find your checking and savings accounts emptied. But you could still come out ahead by knowing what’s legally yours. Working with an attorney can help you understand what recourse you have against a spouse holding your money.