When you file a complaint for divorce in California, automatic restraining orders immediately apply to the spouse who has filed. As soon as the other spouse is served with the complaint, the restraining orders apply to him or her as well.
Most of us think of “restraining orders” as applying to violent situations, however the purpose behind these restraining orders (also known as the ATROs) is to maintain the status quo of the marriage so that people will not try to hide or spend assets. However, not surprisingly since so many California legislators are attorneys, the orders specifically allow for each party to use marital community property to pay for legal counsel in the divorce.
The ATROs prevent either party from removing children from the state without prior written consent, as well as making changes to insurance, or significant changes to property. Be sure to read the ATROs carefully and ask your attorney to explain them. Judges take any violation of these orders quite seriously.
The Standard Family Law Restraining Orders provide as follows:
Starting immediately, you and your spouse are restrained from
- Removing the minor child or children of the parties, if any, from the state without the prior written consent of the other party or an order of the court;
- Cashing, borrowing against, canceling, transferring, disposing of, or changing the beneficiaries of any insurance or other coverage including life, health, automobile, and disability held for the benefit of the parties and their minor child or children; and
- Transferring, encumbering, hypothecating, concealing, or in any way disposing of any property, real or personal, whether community, quasi-community, or separate, without the written consent of the other party or an order of the court, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life.
- Creating a nonprobate transfer or modifying a nonprobate transfer in a manner that affects the disposition of property subject to the transfer, without the written consent of the other party or an order of the court. Before revocation of a nonprobate transfer can take effect or a right of survivorship to property can be eliminated, notice of the change must be filed and served on the other party.
You must notify each other of any proposed extraordinary expenditures at least five business days prior to incurring these extraordinary expenditures and account to the court for all extraordinary expenditures made after these restraining orders are effective. However, nothing in the restraining orders shall preclude you from using community property to pay reasonable attorney fees in order to retain legal counsel in the action.