What to do if Your Spouse Won't Stop Spending Money / by Cassandra Hearn

Financial matters are one area that almost all married couples will fight over. It's not uncommon for one spouse to be "a saver" and the other to be "a spender." Like any other marital issue, the spouses will need to come to a mutual agreement if they want their marriage to last. Creating a reasonable budget and sharing a shared understanding and goal of the financial abilities will help. In the context of a divorce, coming to such a mutual agreement can become much more complicated. If one spouse won't stop spending money in a divorce, there are specific steps you should be taking. 

First, understand that you may not be allowed to simply cut off all the credit cards and empty the bank accounts. This is true even if your name is the primary account holder for these accounts. At the beginning of any divorce in California, an automatic temporary restraining order comes into effect immediately when the divorce complaint is served upon the defendant spouse. The restraining order keeps either spouse from taking a variety of financial actions, such as taking a loan out on community property, closing joint checking accounts, removing property from a safe deposit box, cash in your life insurance policy, or a variety of other actions. These are still true even if the funds to be transferred are what you believe to be separate property. The court will have to make a decision about how these assets and debts are to be divided before either party may take action to unilaterally block the other spouse from using the asset during a divorce.

If your spouse will not stop spending, the best course of action is often to return to court on a temporary motion. During the motion you can ask the court to take a variety of actions to curtail frivolous expenditures. These can run the gamut from allowing you to open a new bank account to closing all joint credit card accounts. Do not expect the judge to make a final decision on who is responsible for the extra debt or the unnecessary spending of marital assets, as that is an issue for the final hearing. If your spouse disobeys a court order to stop dissipating marital assets or acquiring unnecessary debt, your spouse may be found in contempt of court or saddled with a larger share of the marital debt to reflect the unnecessary spending.

Financial issues in divorce can often have an impact on your life far after the divorce is over. We have experience in helping our clients make a strategy and build a secure financial future. Call us today at (619) 800-0384 to talk about your case.