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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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For Lucy: Lucy: Thank you for the previous answer. Georgia

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For Lucy:

Lucy: Thank you for the previous answer.

Georgia is an equitable division state. My wife closed our joint bank account, capturing monies that were considered joint property. She spent this money, gave it to her relatives, bought a car which was in her name only, and just generally used it as her money to spend. She closed the account while waiting for her lawyer to file the divorce.
She spent the money after the legal separation date.

At the mediation, I was told that the money I was claiming she owed me from those funds, i.e. half of it, could not be paid because she had spent it all. She does have money in a separate account which is her separate property from a legal settlement. Can she get by with spending our joint funds and then claiming she has none left because she spent it? (Keep in mind she spent it after our legal separation date). Seems to me if she has money even though it is her separate property, she should have to pay me back for the portion of our joint funds in the joint account.

While I can not find it right now, it seems like the judge cautioned against disposing of any joint property on the "acknowledgement" of the filing, before a settlement was reached. I can't be positive; I will have to find the paperwork but I am pretty sure it said any party disposing of any property before settlement would be charged with contempt.

Any thoughts?

Hello again,

There's usually an automatic restraining order when the divorce is filed that stops a person from disposing of marital assets, but it doesn't apply before. Still, judges don't like it when a person, in preparation for divorce, hides or disposes of all marital property.

Even if it were somehow OK to spend all joint monies and then squirrel away separate property and not use it to reimburse the marital property (which I would dispute), the car she bought was purchased with marital funds. It's marital property, even if in her name only. The judge could order her to sell the car to reimburse the money taken from the joint account. He could also simply say that he finds that the martial estate was X, she owes you 1/2x, and it's up to her to figure out how to do that. The transfers to the relatives for the purpose of taking your share of the marital funds are basically fraudulent transfers, and judges usually frown on people doing that.
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