When it comes to financial matters, trust can at best be a very expensive luxury or at worst a “sucker’s bet”. It’s your money — take the steps you need to protect it. Don’t be caught off guard.
Whenever possible, the safest route is to jointly discuss closing accounts and work out a fair arrangement with your spouse. You can cooperate in doing this, and you can even go to the bank together. If you aren’t able to discuss dividing the joint accounts with your spouse, it often makes sense to close the joint accounts yourself and put at least half of the money in your own name, leaving the rest for your spouse. You can always give all or part of the money back.
Many people are offended by the prospects of closing the joint accounts and putting some or all of the money in their own name. If you don’t, however, you are at the mercy of your spouse, because he or she could seize all of the joint accounts at any time. There are valid reasons for removing all of the money from joint bank accounts and placing it all in your name, for example: your spouse has a gambling habit or threatens to stop paying child or spousal support.
If you decide to withdraw all of the money and place it in your own name, you are obligated to preserve that money, and to not spend it during the divorce unless absolutely necessary. Even if you could not tell your spouse of your plans to close accounts before doing so, let your spouse know after you’ve closed accounts, including what you’ve done with the money. And don’t fuel a feud by embarrassing your spouse with bounced checks.
Do not close accounts unilaterally unless it feels like your only option. Every action you take to protect yourself may be viewed as an antagonistic act. Do not make this decision lightly.
You will need your own checking account. Consider opening your own account soon after making your decision to divorce so you can have the account established before any financial emergencies arise.