Can My Husband Get Money I Saved in the Bank Under My Name During Our Marriage?

Bank tellers should not let your husband withdraw from your account without authorization.
Bank tellers should not let your husband withdraw from your account without authorization. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

During a marriage, finances often become intertwined, with spouses often having joint accounts as well as individual accounts. A husband easily can access his wife's money in a joint account. If the money is in an individual account, however, a husband must demonstrate to the bank he has legal authority to make the withdrawal. Whether a couple lives in a separate or community property state has some influence on the rights the husband has to his wife's money.

Separate Versus Community Property States

The majority of states are separate property, or common law, states. In these states, any assets you gain during your marriage are independent from the assets your husband gains. The same is true for debts. The exceptions are assets and debts acquired together, such as a mortgage you both signed.

In a community property state, just the opposite is true. The government treats you and your husband as one financial unit, so in general, any assets or debts you gained during your marriage also would be your husband's. Likewise, you'd own assets he gained and be responsible for his debts. Some exceptions exist for things like gifted property and inheritance.

Banking Regulations

Banking regulations do not allow someone whose name is not on a bank account to withdraw funds from that account. The exceptions are if someone has power of attorney over the account holder, is a Social Security representative payee or has received a court judgment that allows him to withdraw the funds. Under these regulations, typically, your husband doesn't have access to your individual account unless you give him the account number, PIN and permission to withdraw.

Putting Property and Bank Law Together

In community property states, the court would consider money you gained during marriage and have in an individual bank account to also belong to your husband. As a co-owner, he legally would have a right to access the money in the account. However, because bank regulations stipulate only the person whose name is on the account may withdraw, your husband would need evidence he is authorized to make the withdrawal, such as power of attorney or Social Security payee verification documents or a court order. In a separate property state, your husband does not legally have a right to the money in your own account. However, if he feels he is entitled to it, he can hire an attorney and sue you to get a court order that would force the bank to release your money.

Bottom Line

It is easier for a husband to get money out of a wife's individual bank account in a community property state than it is in a separate property state. However, regardless of what the property laws are in your state, your husband cannot access your account without some kind of authorization. If a bank allows him to withdraw without authorization, you can seek recourse against the bank and also sue your husband for fraud.

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