Help! I’m Being Locked Out of Our Joint Account

Morning friend,

This week I’m in North Carolina at a Haven House Retreat with Lysa Terkeurst and team. Prayers appreciated. 

Question:  I am not sure what to do currently. To make a long story short, there was fraud on mine and husband’s bank accounts. He was told by the bank to close and open new accounts but the thing is, he hasn't added me to them. I have told him several times through texting that I need to be added to the accounts since we don't talk on the phone at all lately. When I say I need to be added to the accounts there isn't a response back and I have expressed my feelings about it too. He will be gone for close to another year and was gone the previous year. We have kids and this is just not sitting well with me. About 1.5 years ago we had gotten into a heated discussion/talk/yelling and he said he was going to throw me outside. I had connected with a phone counselor soon after because I knew that I never would want that to happen again, but nothing really got resolved. Besides, the counselor suggested we forgive each other and move forward. That was not enough for me. My husband did seem to make some small changes but nothing that has left me feeling like trust was back at all. How do I move forward with this? 

Answer: Thank you for reaching out. I’m sorry for your confusion and suffering. As I read your question, it seems at first glance that you and your husband are separated. But reading it again it also may be that your husband works in a location away from the family. Perhaps as a contract worker somewhere or he is in the military. You say he will be gone for close to a year and was already gone a year. You have children together. So perhaps you are not separated maritally but living separate for work reasons. That is unclear to me. 

First, your problem is not just a marital one, it’s a legal issue for you get more information about. I am not a lawyer, so I recommend you get advice from your bank as well schedule as consultation from an attorney and perhaps CPA for expert guidance. 

Here's my concern: Is your husband telling the truth or was this just a made up story to change your access to the account? Have you had reason to mistrust him financially in the past? You have every right to be concerned, not only because it’s wrong, but because he resides in an overseas location for long periods of time. This leaves you in a vulnerable situation and your conversations with him have fallen on deaf ears. Is that something new or is this a pattern? Has he been providing for you and the children financially in some way even though you do not have access?

My best advice based on the limited information I have is to find out what rights you have to access marital finances? Truthful information can be empowering. I’d visit with the bank to investigate the allegation of fraud. What kind of fraud? Why were you not notified? It it legal for him to be able to close a joint account and open an account in his name only? I’d also run a credit check on your joint account and credit cards, to see if there is any other fraud or spending going on that you are unaware of. Once you get that information gathered, I’d consult with an attorney, and if necessary. a forensic accountant to see if there is anything more you need to do or what legal rights do you have to financially protect yourself and support your children. 

Friend, if you’ve been in this situation before, what has helped you figure out your next right steps forward? 

11 Comments

  1. Caroline Abbott on October 25, 2023 at 10:28 am

    Wow. No matter what caused him to make this change, it is wrong of him to not put you on the new accounts. I agree with Leslie, consult legal advice.

  2. Arlene McGruder on October 26, 2023 at 8:41 am

    His failure to add you to the accounts is a glaring red flag.
    Does he have a will? Is your name on the deed if you own a home? Is your name on other property or even utility bills? Are you employed outside the home?
    As an attorney, I’ve seen unbelievable harm done to spouses-especially women-who didn’t know the details of their financial lives.
    See a lawyer who specializes in family law. Immediately.

    • Cheryl M on October 26, 2023 at 10:23 am

      I will add yo check to see if there is a directed beneficiary on this and other non-retirement accounts…as well s beneficiaries on retirement accounts. You should be a joint owner on that account. Period.
      AND since he is this shady I would also look at the other accounts you have. I would also recommend pulling a credit report on him and yourself to ensure there are not accounts credit or checking/savings that you don’t know about.

      Make an Excel spreadsheet… account number, institution,registration type, open date… assets as of fare you were married, as of 12/31/22 and current. If it is closed..where did the proceeds go. …add the accou to number of that account. List the beneficiaries named there. All checking/savings/credit cards and loans. Understanding where ALL your joint assets are.

  3. Dani on October 26, 2023 at 8:44 am

    I don’t have hood or happy info to share. My (now ex) did something similar. Taking $ out of a joint account and putting it in a “better investment tool” but only in his name and without telling me. When I discovered it, like you, I expressed how that action made me uncomfortable and asked to be added to the account. Lots of DARVO so I let it go so as not to argue and wasn’t getting anywhere. But a year or so thereafter his pay stopped going into the joint account. He had a reason for that too but again, no discussion or forewarning. That was one of the last catalysts for me to initiate a divorce Discovery and background /credit checks identified lA number of accounts in only his own name that he had going to a PO Box in another county. Please seek some legal counsel as Leslie suggests and get clarity on the situation sooner rather than later. Financial deception can be very destructive

  4. Holly McMillan on October 26, 2023 at 9:09 am

    I just went through a divorce after 25 years of marriage and I would implore you to take these women’s advice and dig deep to make sure your name is not only on the accounts, but that you have been given the same legal rights as your husband on each account, including utilities and all other accounts. I found out the hard way that my name was on accounts, but that I had not been given any legal rights with the accounts. When my husband and I seperated, for what I thought was a time to get individual counseling and marriage counseling in order to come back together in a healthy way, my husband cancelled all our utilities, withdrew large sums of money, and tried to have me evicted from our home that we were renting. He did not tell me he was doing these things and when our landlord contacted me, I learned that I was on the lease in name only…same with all utilities and our bank accounts. I was shocked and overwhelmed to say the least. In some ways your husband has done you a favor in raising such a glaring red flag. I would quietly do your research before asking him so that you know what you are dealing with and have wise counsel in how to protect yourself and your children financially and with housing. I also learned the hard way that when you try to get your spouse to be honest and help you understand what’s going on, it’s like giving them the upper hand and they will use that to harm you. It feels wrong not to trust your spouse, but I believe God is protecting you by opening your eyes to potential trouble and wants you to be wise. If your spouse is trustworthy and you are just nervous, the research will put you at ease, but if your spouse is truly not trustworthy then your research could make all the difference in how you and your children move forward in as much peace as possible.
    It is not wise to do nothing and hope for the best, you and your children could pay a heavy price for that naive kind of thinking. God is with you no matter what and will give you strength to overcome, but it’s better to choose the proactive path than the reactive one.

  5. Tamika on October 26, 2023 at 9:25 am

    I would def get a lawyer. I have one & the first thing they did was serve him & let him know he cannot move or transfer the money.

    Definitely will be praying for you. You do not have to accept this & you have rights. You can also file for child support during the separation.

  6. Jolene on October 26, 2023 at 9:47 am

    I have been in this position. I know you feel vulnerable, but you hold some power here. He is overseas, and you have the house and its contents. Sell something if you need to. If you get desperate, and it sounds like you are close, you can consider a home equity line of credit if you are a homeowner. Do you have credit of your own? You may need to establish some in case you need a credit card if you need to escape. Do NOT tell him your plans. Hold your cards close. That will be to your advantage to just let him think you are complacent while you figure out what to do. Is there any way you can get a job and open your own bank account? Even if it is just babysitting in your home, so that you can make some money of your own? Also, contact your local domestic violence shelter. They may have some resources, advice, or free counseling. Know that you are not alone.

  7. Susan Primo on October 26, 2023 at 9:53 am

    Same. Long marriage. My name on accounts, but no access. Reasoning, crying, imploring… Money was being controlled and moved to my ex-husband’s advantage. It sounds like you actually have a strong inkling that something, if not many things are wrong and getting worse.

    Find the best attorney you can who understands $ and those who shield $. Look for one who discusses details and won’t gloss over your situation. Be prepared that the hard lifting will need to be done by you. Protect yourself and your kids. Your husband seems to already be focused on what he wants.

    Emotional abuse is often wrapped in with financial abuse. The abused have “adjusted’ to get along and keep going with the day to day for everyone’s sake.

    Godspeed. Praying for you.

  8. Maria on October 26, 2023 at 10:53 am

    I’m so sorry that you are going through this form of financial abase. My mother always advised me to have my own checking/savings accounts in addition to any joint/marital accounts. Women need to establish their own credit. I also recommend to have at least one utility bill in your name. Heeding this advice made things so much easier when my first husband passed away. When my second husband started showing signs of financial mistrust, I started to separate our finances (took his name of my credit cards, removed my name from his). The financial fall out was still disastrous for me but I believe I was able to mitigate even greater harm. If possible get your name removed from any other accounts you don’t want to be responsible for .

  9. Mary on October 27, 2023 at 6:28 am

    Whatever you do…… if you are employed and filing a joint tax return…… stop. Do not file joint in 2024 for the 2023 taxes….. Married 26 yrs….. He faulted on his taxes the last 3 yrs in ministry, IRA came after me …. I filed innocent spouse paperwork and by God’s beautiful gracious grace he chose to serve justice thru the IRA and I was able to be declared exempt from them. It extended my healing process by at least a yr…. tethered to the unknown.

  10. Sandy on October 27, 2023 at 10:16 am

    I do not believe he can close a joint account without you. I tried to close one and I was required to bring my husband. Check with the bank to see if it was really closed. If so, see if he used fraud to do so. Next, you need a lawyer to help you. If money is an issue there are resources available to help women. Leslie has great resources through Conquer groups.

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