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What rights do I have to my money in a community property state if I am the sole earner of the household?

Tacoma, WA |

My wife and I are seperated by a restraining order and she has taken $4400 out of a joint account we have. She took half the tax money and my recent paycheck. She has opened her own account and most likely deposited the money there. I am the sole wage earner.

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In WA, all assets and wages acquired during marriage are presumed to be community property, no matter who earns it. In the course of a divorce proceeding, it may be possible to have the wife account for the amount which she took in excess of her portion of the community assets. That portion is often one-half, but it can also be more or less than one-half in the discretion of the court.

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Generally speaking all assets obtained after marriage are community, this includes wages or income of either party. You seemed fixed on how your status as sole wage earner effects that...it does not. Sole wage earner gives you no bonus points...Make sure to keep a diary of everything that takes place with respect to assets as you go through the process of a divorce. In the end, an accounting of what she took should help in making things fairs with respect to dividing assets and debts up. Bank records are exceedingly easy to obtain so don’t worry about being able to prove what she took or where she put it. Get yourself an experienced family law attorney. Good Luck.

This is not legal advice.

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If you file for a decree of dissolution or legal separation the court can untangle this situation. On the one hand, your money is community property. On the other hand, the courts don't like financial manipulation. It’s always best to consult with a good family law attorney to discuss the details before you act. See my AVVO Legal Guides on divorce for more information about the legal issues raised by your inquiry. Click on my photo. On my AVVO home page click on "View Contributions" or scroll down further and click on "Legal Guides." Scroll down the list of my 29 Legal Guides and select the topics relevant to your question. If you like my answer and Legal Guides, please make sure you mark them as “helpful.”

This AVVO Answer is provided for general educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you agree and understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the attorney responding, and no attorney-client confidentiality. The law changes frequently, and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information provided in this Answer is general in nature and may not apply to the factual circumstances described in your question. The applicable law and the appropriate answer may be different in the State or States where the relevant facts occurred. For a definitive answer you should seek legal advice from an attorney who (1) is licensed to practice in the state which has jurisdiction; (2) has experience in the area of law you are asking about, and (3) has been retained as your attorney for representation or consultation. Your question and the attorney’s answer may be used for promotional or educational purposes

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