Divorce & The Status Quo
You or your spouse have decided to file for divorce. You may be one of the few who have remained amicable and can continue residing together throughout the pendency of your case. But what if one of you move out? What happens with all those bills you previously paid together? Before you file, or if your spouse has already filed, it’s important to know what, if any, rules your county has in place regarding these expenses.
Every jurisdiction has what are referred to as Administrative Orders, Standing Orders, or something similar. These Orders outline the rights and/or responsibilities of parties after case is filed and throughout the pendency of the case, until/unless your Judge issues an Order on that particular issue.
What do these Orders include that you need to be aware of? It may be that you and your spouse are required to maintain the financial status quo. But what does that mean? It means that you and your spouse must continue to pay all of the household and marital expenses that you have or had been paying prior to filing. If you have been paying the monthly payments for your spouse’s car, you must continue to do so. If your spouse has been paying the mortgage every month, they must continue to do so.
These Orders often prohibit spouses from doing such things as removing one another from insurance policies, utilities, and bank accounts. Your insurance renewal period comes up and your “employee only” plan is significantly cheaper than your “employee + spouse” plan and you’re thinking about saving yourself some money? Your spouse is a terrible driver and costs you a ton of money to have them on your insurance and you’re dying to remove them? Make sure you know what prohibitions are in your jurisdiction’s Orders before you do so.
What if you and your spouse have a joint bank account and you want to remove what you think is “your” money and open a new account (or transfer that money to another account solely in your name)? It’s almost certain your jurisdiction’s Order includes a provision that prevents either spouse from making marital funds inaccessible to the other. But you’re the sole income earner on a joint account? Sorry, those are marital funds. What about that rental property you purchased during your marriage and you want to sell it so you have money to move out? Sorry, it’s almost certain your jurisdiction has a provision against “depleting marital assets.”