Automatic Restraining Order

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What is an Automatic Restraining Order?

An automatic restraining order is a special kind of restraining order that is issued in connection with divorce proceedings.  Unlike most other types of restraining orders, automatic restraining orders don’t really have to do with protecting the parties from physical violence or abuse.

Instead, an automatic restraining order has to do with each party’s bank accounts and assets.  Basically, the automatic restraining order puts restrictions on the party’s bank accounts and instructs them that they can only use their money for “reasonable living expenses” during the divorce proceedings.  This is to prevent one of the main problems in a divorce setting, that is, where one spouse is hiding assets from the other party to avoid having to pay for them or split property with them.

An automatic restraining order prevents the party from:

Automatic restraining orders usually apply to both parties in the divorce.  However, it’s also common for only one party to file for an automatic restraining order against the other.  This usually happens if one partner has significantly more assets than the other, or if there are other issues involved like as child/spousal support. 

Are There Legal Consequences for Violating an Automatic Restraining Order?

Yes- automatic restraining orders are issued by a judge in a court of law, and are therefore enforceable under state and local laws.  Liability for hiding assets can result in consequences such as a contempt of court order, which may involve court fines or other penalties.

In addition, violating an automatic restraining order can affect that party’s rights in other areas, such as their rights to child custody or their rights to visitation hours. 

What if Physical Protection is Needed?

Automatic restraining orders don’t provide either party with physical protection from domestic violence or other types of abuse.  If such protection is needed, the party needs to file for a different type of restraining order, such as an emergency protective order or a temporary restraining order

These types of restraining orders impose penalties on the restricted party if they attempt to contact or go near the victim.  They usually issued at the beginning of trial, and can sometimes be obtained even if the other party isn’t present during the hearing.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with an Automatic Restraining Order?

If you’re filing for divorce, the automatic restraining order usually needs to be filed at the beginning of the proceedings.  You may need to hire an experienced family lawyer for help with this, as divorce hearings can often be very complex.  Your attorney can help review your state’s laws with regards to automatic restraining orders.  Also, your lawyer will be able to represent you in court during the actual court hearings.

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Last Modified: 01-13-2014 02:33 PM PST

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