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Was this a safe deposit box that you both had to be present to open, or could either party get to it without the need for the other spouse being present?
(that is, did the bank drop the ball here? )
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I will assume that this was an "or" type safety deposit box (in that either party could access it, and the bank would not be liable in such a situation). Since this was joint property, as well as marital property (money earned during the marriage belongs to both spouses in the absence of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, or in the absence of a written order from a court otherwise. That means that you can think of marital property as a big "bucket". Everything that you earn or she earns goes into it, and either spouse can take out as much or as little as he or she wants.
It would not be illegal to do this, even if you had an agreement to use it for a "rainy day" or otherwise. The reason is that she would have just as much right to this property as you do, legally speaking, since it was earned during the marriage. You would have as much right to anything that she earns as she does. That's the nature of marital property.
Now that being said, if you go to court and get divorced, you can use this as evidence that she should get less of the marital estate in the divorce because of her use of marital funds for her own purposes (rather than marital purposes).
But to answer your question, no, it is not illegal at all.
I know this is probably not what you wanted to hear, but it is the law. I hope that clears things up anyway. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!
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