Removing Your Spouse from a Joint Bank Account

by Miranda Marquit · 16 comments


My husband asked for a divorce recently. Once I move beyond the initial emotional shock of the situation, I began thinking about the financial ramifications of our marriage ending. One of the items to consider is what to do with joint bank accounts.

Who Gets to Keep the Bank Accounts?

Every expert I’ve talked to about divorce and finances agrees that it’s best to separate finances as quickly as possible. This includes closing joint bank accounts and opening different accounts. I didn’t want to give up the main account, though.

Most of my finances are automated, and many of the automatic bills, from insurance premiums to my student loan payments, come out of the account that my soon-to-be-ex husband and I used to share. The last thing I wanted was to set up new payment information for all of those accounts.

The good news is that, even if you have a joint account, it’s possible to remove one account owner. Because my ex is setting up new accounts in his name, it was easier for him to open a new account and begin using it for his own automatic billing. I called my bank and asked about the process of having my husband’s name removed from the joint account, and it was surprisingly simple.

The bank had a single-page form to fill out. All we had to do was fill out and sign in front of a notary, and then mail it back. As soon as the bank received the form, my husband’s name was removed from the account, and now it’s entirely in my name.

how to deal with divorceConvenience and Digital Banking

We had to complete all the steps outlined by the bank to remove my husband’s name from the account remotely because we opened the account at a branch in New York more than 12 years ago. In some cases, banks require you to submit the information to the originating branch. This can create difficulties in our increasingly mobile society. The mail-in option worked well for us because we lived hours away from the original branch.

Banks that operate almost completely online might be another story, though. You might be able to scan and email requisite forms, or go through some other process of having one of the joint account holders removed from the account. Double check ahead of time, though, to ensure that you follow proper procedure and avoid delays.

Digital banking is convenient. The rise of automatic debits and payments can make it easier to ensure that your bills are paid and that you avoid some of the delays that come with mail forwarding of hard copies. Electronic payments and online bill pay have been helpful to me as I’ve made two cross-country moves in less than a year.

However, it occurred to me that all of this automation gets to a point where you might be trapped to one specific bank. Closing the account and making all of the changes to a new account can be tedious and time-consuming. I know the thought of moving all of my payments to a new account — especially when I already felt the stress of the divorce — made things worse. Being able to simply remove my husband’s name from the account and keep everything the same helped a great deal.

What do you think of your bank account? Are you attached to it? What would you do to keep your bank account?

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  • PixieDust says:

    With a situation like this you could also go to the CFPB (Consumer’s Finance Protection Bureau. ) The best thing to do is gather your evidence & put it together, the more the merrier, first. They give you 45 days. If you miss their deadline, they will cancel it, but I was just told, you can reopen it again. Banks are hard to defeat.

  • PixieDust says:

    In today’s troubled dog eat dog world, reading people asking questions & helping each other, is what still helps me to feel gratitude. If you are going for divorce, especially, if he/she is a narcissist, get your proof & keep quiet about it. Get a lawyer who understands narcissism & look out for corruption. Study how to get a divorce, because believe me, you will be glad you did!!

  • PixieDust says:

    I had to take our joint acct out of our bank acct. The bank accepted fraudulent POA papers & there was too much fraud. That is when the nightmare began. I do not need POA on our joint acct., but the banks wouldn’t listen to the law. They treated me like a criminal. My husband is in a medical building, out of state, so he got his brother to get my name off the acct & illegally. The address, for my husband is his brother’s address & the bank he uses doesn’t care. I got in contact where the acct came from & they said, “You must use the right address & with proof. His brother comes from money & he can pay people to get his way. I live in property, need to move far away & divorce him. Don’t know how I will be able to get this done on little money. My husband has been robbing me quite a bit of our marriage!

    • David@MoneyNing.com says:

      I’m not a lawyer so I cannot give legal advice. However, I looked online and the American Bar Association has a resource page to help you locate companies that can give you free legal advice. Look here:

      https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_services/flh-home/flh-free-legal-help/

      • PixieDust says:

        David, I just found your message now. What a nice thing you did. What I’m dealing with is a criminal who has bad intent for me. After decades I can not get help. The police are a nightmare. He is recruiting over six people to help him. His brother comes from money, so we are dealing with corruption. I found a few banks who didn’t get involved with corruption & were helpful. I am working on a complaint with the CFPB, but that takes time. I want to take the time to thank you for your compassion. Believe me, people, who do things to help others makes me feel such gratitude.

        • David@MoneyNing.com says:

          PixieDust,

          You are welcome, and sorry to hear about your situation. I hope things will turn well out for you! Hang in there!

          • PixieDust says:

            I should be fine, lots of help. You just have to know how to look. On top of that, the apt. I reside at is causing major problems corruption again. When, I get through a day without saying words like corruption, fraud, report, it feels like Christmas. The internet is getting very dangerous, because of fraud, it’s advisable to get familiar with fraud. They are even frauding children who aren’t even working yet. BE CAREFUL every second your on the internet.

  • Ryan says:

    While it’s true that some banks make this easier than others, it also depends on what state you live. Each state has different regulations for what happens to shared property after a divorce. For example, it’s much easier to remove a spouse in Nevada for California.

    • PixieDust says:

      Pa. is marital ownership. You can remove a name, if that person agrees & by the proper procedure. You can’t just do this behind the joint owners back. He has been stealing from me since day one & I just realized it. Long story!

  • Michael says:

    Some banks are better than others to help facilitate with this. From reading somewhere I remember Bank Of America were the most accomodating.

  • Anya M Thomas says:

    Need to know if I can just remove my husband we r spilt up gonna get a divorce. I added him to my account. Can I just remove him from my account?

    • David Ning says:

      I’m pretty sure you can’t just remove someone from a joint bank account because technically they are also an owner. Just imagine that if you can just go and remove him as an owner, then he can do the same for you.

      • PixieDust says:

        David, I’m a fraud advocate & you are right. I was a joint owner, but I believe a bank was paid. My problem is I’m dealing with corruption & a very good liar. I want to get a divorce, but what I hear about divorce is a real nightmare. There are 85 secrets & tons of corruption. You can lose your children & every cent you have. Our children are grown, thank God, but I’m dealing with a narcissist way up the spectrum. I walked out right before Mother’s Day & I’m not going back. The police are terrible.

  • Francis Sjogren says:

    Most of my finances are automated, and many of the automatic bills, from insurance premiums to my student loan payments, come out of the account that my soon-to-be-ex husband and I used to share. The last thing I wanted was to set up new payment information for all of those accounts.

  • velvetanne says:

    B of A required both of us to come into the bank to close the account. Of course that wasn’t going to happen and I could not afford an attorney. You are correct about separating the accounts asap. Our state refund of 4000.00 was mailed to our marital residence where he remained, he was able to deposit the check in our joint account without my endorsement. Then it was his to do as he pleased without my knowledge or before I discovered it. Glad you had a better experience but don’t assume that all banks work this way. They don’t!

  • Jordan says:

    A very hard topic, but very necessary to bring up. The faster that action is taken the easier it is to separate accounts and be separate financially as the divorce happens. Thanks for sharing this how-to.

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