Are my Assets Frozen During a Divorce? (Answer – Sort of…) A Summary of Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (ATROs) Issued in Every California Divorce

When a Dissolution of Marriage case is filed with the Court, certain orders are automatically issued pursuant to California Family Code Section 2040.  They are called “Standard Family Law Restraining Orders” or “Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (ATROs)” and they are listed on the back of the Summons that must be served with the Petition.  They are effective against the Petitioner upon filing the Petition and effective against the Respondent upon being served.  These orders remain in effect until a final judgment, dismissal of the petition, or further court order.  These orders include, among others, a prohibition against:

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. 

So are your assets “frozen”?  No.  Will you be under Court Orders which will restrict the actions you otherwise could take with respect to your assets?  Yes.  The purpose of these orders is to maintain the status quo with respect to the marital assets to ensure their orderly division.  You will be free to continue to pay your rent or mortgage, buy groceries, and pay your ordinary expenses.  But you cannot close bank accounts, buy luxury automobiles, make other large expenditures, or engage in any conduct outside of “usual course of business” without getting your spouse’s written permission or approval from the Court.

These restrictions can be confusing, and it can be difficult to determine what actions are and what actions are not violations of the ATROs.  There can be serious consequences for violating these orders.  Oftentimes, violations of these orders are honest mistakes, but nonetheless can have a significant impact on the outcome of your divorce case.  At the Law Office of Del Ponte and Hirz, we can assist you with any questions you may have regarding the ATROs so you can ensure that any actions you are considering are not violations of these orders, or assist you to pursue the appropriate remedy if you believe the actions of your spouse are in violation of these orders.  Feel free to Contact Us for a Free Consultation.

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