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Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders in Separation and Divorce

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What are Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders?

Many people think restraining orders are only relevant in situations where people are trying to protect themselves from harassment or violence from another person.

Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders, often referred to as “ATROs”, are a different type of restraining order that automatically go into effect when a petition for divorce or separation is filed with a court. ATROs prohibit spouses from engaging in certain activities while their petition for divorce or separation is pending with a court.

In a nutshell, Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders are a way for the legal system to establish a code of conduct for spouses who are in the midst of a separation or divorce by limiting their ability make major rash decisions regarding children of the marriage or assets of the couple.

When are ATROs put in place?

Automatic temporary restraining orders are effective immediately upon the service and filing of the summons for divorce or separation. The orders serve to protect each parties’ interests and rights regarding their assets and children. ATROs specifically prevent each party from taking children of the marriage out of state without the prior consent of the other party or by court order.

The orders also prohibit either party from transferring, concealing, or disposing of any personal or real property – whether it is separate, quasi community or community, without the consent of the other party or court order. The only exception is for the spending and disposing of any assets that are part of a couple’s normal course of business or for the necessity of day-to- day life.

Also, couples may not make changes to insurance policies, bank accounts, or adjusting beneficiaries while divorce or separation proceedings are in process.

Are ATROs one-sided?

Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders are a mutual court order which means that both spouses are required to follow the orders. And, although the orders are referred to as “automatic,” the courts do not notify banks or other financial institutions used by the couple to notify them of the pending divorce or separation. Rather, it is the duty of the couple to follow the orders.

So, what happens if a spouse violates the ATRO? Many people are surprised to learn that a violation of Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders is considered a criminal offense and a court will hold a spouse in violation of an ATRO in contempt. Just another reason why it is so important that both parties play by the rules during divorce or separation proceedings!

 

Examples

You receive some cash before the court finalizes the settlement, for living expenses, and this goes into your checking account.  If you want to move some of that money elsewhere, perhaps to a money market account, or other investment, you need to get approval from your spouse first.

 

If you and your ex- (soon-to-be ex-) have not finalized child custody issues, and you wish to take your child to another state, perhaps to visit family, you must get your ex’s permission.

 

These requirements go both ways.  Your ex- will need to get your permission as well to do these things.