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What to do if one spouse seizes assets

People in Pennsylvania who notice unusual financial activity from a spouse may wonder whether that spouse is planning for divorce. For example, one man's wife took the $90,000 they had both received from a house sale plus the $40,000 she got after losing her job and used it to open an account in her own name. The man asked that the money be returned to their joint accounts or that his name be added to the account, but the woman would not do either.

The man's spouse might have done this because he was irresponsible with money. However, a person who is in a similar situation might want to talk to an attorney about what steps to take if it appears the spouse may be considering divorce. One step may be to document all communication regarding the money. The person might also want to talk to the bank about how the money might be retrieved.

If there is a divorce, it is unlikely that the court would consider the money in the account to belong to just one person. It would probably be considered shared marital property.

However, in a high-asset divorce in particular, one spouse might attempt to move funds around or conceal property from the other spouse. A person who is concerned about a spouse hiding assets might want to talk to an attorney about those concerns since a forensic accountant and other professionals may be able to trace the assets. If both spouses are cooperative, it might be possible to negotiate a divorce agreement even if property division will be complex. The advantage of negotiating outside of court is that the couple can remain in control of the situation. If the case goes to litigation, the couple may both be unhappy with the judge's decision and have no recourse. However, in some cases, litigation is necessary.

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