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Spouses and asset protection

California couples usually understand the importance of financial transparency. They will let each other know about major purchases, disclose balances in bank accounts and on credit cards and will have agreements about how their funds should be managed. In some cases, however, spouses are not always so honest.

It sometimes happens that one spouse may, without informing the other spouse, transfer funds out of a jointly held account into an account held only in the transferring spouse's name. At that point, the spouse who made the transfer has access to the funds while the other spouse does not. In some cases, this kind of transfer can be a sign that they are planning to leave the marriage and want to secure as many assets for themselves as possible. Of course, there could be other explanations, such as concern about a spendthrift spouse going through a large amount of cash in a short time.

The sort of action can create numerous problems. First, it can leave the other spouse in a precarious financial situation. Upon discovery, that spouse may decide to file for divorce and can bring up this transfer in court. Under California's community property laws, those funds remain marital assets, even if they are held in an account owned by only one of the partners.

Individuals who are concerned about protecting their assets within a marriage and possible divorce may benefit from speaking with an experienced family law attorney. Counsel can review the situation and offer advice for protecting marital assets. In a resultingdivorce, an attorney's advice may be particularly helpful during settlement negotiations.

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