If you and your spouse have decided a divorce is in order, you have an interest in protecting as much of your assets as you can. You do not want your spouse to make off with money that a judge would award you in your property settlement. This applies to assets that you and your spouse share like a jointly owned bank account.
Since you and your spouse share ownership, it is possible your spouse might access the account and empty it before you know it. But as The Motley Fool explains, a court could impose legal punishments on your spouse for doing so.
Court actions to protect property
The act for filing for divorce could protect your assets at the outset. Your judge might place an injunction that prevents you and your spouse from accessing or spending marital assets in order to preserve them for division later on. If the judge does not do this automatically, you may request that the judge enacts the injunction.
As a result, if your spouse empties your account without your consent or knowledge, the judge could charge your spouse with acting in criminal contempt of the injunction. Your spouse may incur legal penalties as a result. The judge may also award you a greater share of the marital assets as part of the settlement.
Keeping your name on the account
Another way your spouse could try to take assets from a jointly owned account is to ask the bank to remove your name from the account. That way, your spouse is now the sole owner of the account and you lose your access to it.
Once again, legal protections may prevent this happening. If you have joint ownership of the account, a financial institution has no authority to deny you access to something you legally own. You should be able to hold on to the account until you come to an agreement over how to divide the assets in your settlement.