When hearing the words “restraining order,” most people think you’re referring to some type of physical abuse where someone needs a court order to be protected from the dangerous actions of someone else. However, the Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (“ATROs” for short) used in divorce cases are something else entirely.
In fact, ATROs are considered the opposite of negative because they help ensure a measure of respect between divorcing spouses. For example, they establish specific ground rules regarding a couple’s assets, insurance policies, beneficiary designations, etc. They are written on the back of the FL-110 form which is also known as a “summons.” The summons is that document served with the divorce petition.
ATROs are mutual court orders that prohibit either spouse from changing the financial status quo of the marriage once a divorce action begins.
A few examples of what ATROs prohibit are:
• If children are involved, they may not be moved from California
• Changing bank accounts
• Cashing, cancelling, or disposing of insurance and/or other coverage
• Selling, transferring or borrowing against property
• Borrowing or selling insurance held for the other spouse
• Modifying beneficiaries on policies like health insurance, life insurance, retirement accounts, wills, etc.
• Destroying or hiding assets
Automatic temporary restraining orders stay in effect until there is a court order that modifies it or the petition is dismissed or there is a final judgment. They can be terminated earlier than the final judgment but it takes a court order to do that, which can be stipulated, or agreed upon, orders. The automatic temporary restraining order is not intended to stop conduct that has already started before the petition. Because this is an area that is very factually dense, the advice of an experienced family law lawyer is important.
If you need help with your divorce, contact Thorsteinson Law Group, your trusted and experienced divorce and family law attorney. Offices are located in Long Beach and Huntington Beach, California.