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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 101759
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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In the case of mutual fund accounts that are JTWROS, in the

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In the case of mutual fund accounts that are JTWROS, in the case of a divorce when the account are to be split 50/50 in settlement , does the joint ownership stand? Can either party in the JTWROS account change, transfer or cash in the account without notice to the other party? If changes are made to the account does the party not initiating the change have to sign off on the changes being made? The brokerage firm handling it told me the account is no longer in two names, only my ex-wife's and she is refusing to give me my share. The broker says he can't talk to me, since its in her name only-and refuses to tell me how/when that happened. Franklin County, Ohio
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your situation.

Even if the mutual accounts are JTWROS, this is preempted by the fact the accounts are marital property under ORC 3105.171(A)(3)(a) et seq. As such, neither party should be maliciously withdrawing funds from the accounts to hide them.

Of course, just because they should not be does not mean that they cannot. Thus, in such situations if one party does not trust the other, during the divorce, a party often requests a motion for temporary orders to enjoin both parties from taking out the money until the divorce is settled. A party that has taken out money maliciously may also be made to return it.

If changes are made to the account does the party not initiating the change have to sign off on the changes being made?

This depends on what you mean by "changes," but not really. Both parties have equal rights to the money and it is unusual for both parties to have to sign off on any withdrawal.

The brokerage firm handling it told me the account is no longer in two names, only my ex-wife's and she is refusing to give me my share. The broker says he can't talk to me, since its in her name only-and refuses to tell me how/when that happened.

It sounds like she took your name off. As such, if you are divorcing (or if not yet, but when), then individuals in your situation may wish to file for temporary orders asking the Court to (1) freeze the accounts and (2) have her return anything she has taken out, until the matter is resolved at final hearing.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Best of luck.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Ely. The divorce is final (2010) and the decree said the account would be split 50/50 upon maturity which was last year. That's when she told me she wasn't sharing, despite what the court settlement stated because she didn't "trust me to use it for the children"-which she stated in an email that I have.

 

Shortly after she state that, I contacted the firm and they told me the fund was in only one name-hers-and would give me no further information, including when this occurred. So do I sue for my share? And since she is in violation of the decree, go for contempt so she will have to pay my attorney bill?

Hello friend,

Ah, I see what has happened.

So do I sue for my share? And since she is in violation of the decree, go for contempt so she will have to pay my attorney bill?

Go for contempt. This is arguably contempt of Court. Contempt is when a party does not do what is mandated by the Court. The Court has the right to then punish the party, which may include admonishment, fines, amount to pay you for the cost in bringing the motion, and/or even imprisonment upon failure to do what is necessary to correct the matter. ORC 2705.01 et seq - see here.

Often, the mere threat of filing contempt will have the party do what is necessary, to avoid being held in contempt.

I hope this clarifies. Again, best of luck.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Ely, I should have clarified regarding decree. Contempt it is!

No worries... best of luck!