The Facts About Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders

Carlsbad, CA – When going through a divorce or separation, California law essentially suspends extraordinary actions from occurring with your property, insurance, and children. This suspension called an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO), happens with the issuance of a summons – a legal document notifying one spouse that the other is filing for divorce.


The Four Parts of an ATRO

California Family Code 2040 states that four main conditions occur once a summons, issued via the FL-110 form, is served:

  1. Neither spouse may remove any minor children from California, nor apply for their new or replacement passports. The exception is with either written consent from the other party or a court order.
  2. All forms of insurance (life, auto, health, disability) that affect either spouse or any minor children may not be altered during the divorce process. This means that such policies cannot be cashed out, canceled, borrowed against, disposed of, or transferred to another party.
  3. Property, either real or personal, also cannot be transferred, hidden, disposed of, or otherwise encumbered without either written consent from the other party or via court order. Please note there is one caveat: The FL-110 form gives an exception for “the usual course of business or for the necessities of life.” Therefore, it is always important to talk with a family law attorney regarding your specific case.
  4. You cannot change any nonprobrate transfer – any legal document regarding the allocation of property upon your death. While this stipulation does not include your last will and testament, it does include assets like bank accounts, Totten trusts, and other investments. Again, this can be amended either by order of the court or written consent by your spouse.

Changing and Ending the ATRO

Either you or your spouse can modify the restraining order by court order. In this case, your attorney would likely need to appear before a judge, giving good cause for the proposed change.

The ATRO stays in effect either until the divorce or annulment is finalized, or the legal separation ends. After this point, the ATRO will no longer be applicable. It may also be terminated early by court order, as long as both parties agree.

Please be aware: If you or your spouse violate any of the terms of the ATRO, the offending party can be held in contempt of court. This could affect the outcome of child custody and/or divorce settlement terms. It is always critical that you meet with a lawyer to discuss the intricacies of your case to achieve the best outcome possible.

Schedule a free consultation with Griffith, Young and Lass today to meet with skilled, experienced family law attorneys. They can help you with your case in a professional manner, easing some of the hardships of this difficult time in your life.

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