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Why do my Divorce Papers Mention Family Law Restraining Orders?

You may have noticed that your divorce paperwork mentions Standard Family Law Restraining Orders. Upon seeing those words, you may have wondered, “What are Standard Family Law Restraining Orders?” and “Do they apply to me?”

Standard Family Law Restraining Orders, otherwise known as Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (ATROs), are very important orders that you need to be aware of and abide by, but not worried about. They are intended to preserve your present circumstances. They instruct both you, and your spouse, on the actions you both are prohibited from taking so that neither your children nor your marital assets are hurt during your divorce.

The ATROs are a set of four orders found on the back of the Summons (FL-110) that go into effect automatically upon the commencement of your divorce. Specifically, they go into effect against the Petitioner when the Petition is filed and the Summons is issued, and they go into effect against the Respondent when he or she is served with the Petition and Summons. Fam. Code §233(a).

The only way to have the ATRO’s terminated is to have your Petition dismissed, a final judgment entered in your case, or to obtain a court order terminating some or all of the ATRO’s.  Fam Code §233(a).

Once the ATROs are in effect, they restrain both you, and your spouse, from doing the following:

  1. Removing any minor children you have with your spouse from California, or for applying for a new or replacement passport for those minor children, without your spouse’s prior written consent or a court order. Code §2040(a)(1).
  1. 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 you or your spouse, or your minor children. Code §2040(a)(3). Examples of this type of behavior include removing your spouse from your automobile insurance policy, changing the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, and removing your spouse or children from your health, dental, or vision insurance.
  1. Transferring, encumbering, hypothecating, concealing, disposing of, or changing the beneficiaries of any real or personal property (whether community, quasi-community, or separate) without a court order or your spouse’s written consent, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life. Code §2040(a)(2). Examples of this type of behavior include taking out a loan against community property, selling community stock, and closing a joint checking account and transferring the money into your own separate account.
  1. Creating or modifying a nonprobate transfer in a manner that affects the disposition of property subject to the transfer, without your spouse’s consent or court order. Code §2040(a)(4).

Although the ATRO’s restrain many types of behavior, they do not prohibit you, or your spouse, from (1) paying attorney’s fees, (2) creating, modifying, or revoking a will, or (3) revoking a nonprobate transfer such as a revocable trust.

This blog was written by Jaime L. Kissinger. Jaime is a family law attorney at Family Law Center. She practices exclusively family law and serves the greater Sacramento area, including the counties of Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, San Joaquin, and Yolo. If you need assistance with your divorce, call Jaime at (916) 488-5088 to schedule a consultation.