The money in a couple's joint bank account belongs equally to each account holder. A divorce court doesn't have to divide it up that way, however, because the judge looks at the big picture. For example, one spouse could get all of a $10,000 joint bank account, while the other gets 100 percent of a different $10,000 asset.
The exact rules for how to divide up assets vary state to state. In some states, marital assets are divided 50-50, and in other states, judges have more flexibility depending on the circumstances. State law also determines whether one spouse can withdraw money from a joint account before or after filing the divorce. If one spouse needs the money to live on, it's important to check the law before trying to tap the account.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.