A restraining order is a type of court order that restricts a person from harming or coming near another person. This is usually accomplished by requesting or ordering the individual not to take specific acts. Some of these orders for instance may involve instructions for the person not to visit the other person at certain locations. Others might prevent them from coming within a certain distance from the person (for instance 1000 feet).

Restraining orders can vary in nature and purpose. Some of them can last only for several days, while others might be enforceable for several years. Many of them are associated with criminal penalties and consequences, like jail time, if they are violated. 

Restraining orders typically protect a person from physical harm. However, some restraining orders might involve protection from other types of harm, such as emotional or economic harm. Some states refer to restraining orders as “protective orders. They are typically used in cases involving:

Some restraining orders may apply to more than one person. Also, some orders can be enforced to protect the general public or even businesses. States may have their own sets of laws when it comes to the types of restraining orders that are available. They may also have different procedures for requesting and obtaining them from the court.

What are Automatic Restraining Orders?

An automatic restraining order is a very specific kind of restraining order. It is generally 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 threats or risks of physical violence or abuse.

Instead, an automatic restraining order has to do with each party’s bank accounts and monetary or financial assets. Basically, the automatic restraining order puts restrictions on the party’s bank accounts and access to them. The order 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 many divorce settings, 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 typically prevents the party from:

  • Hiding financial assets or money from the other spouse or from the court;
  • Moving money from account to account to avoid declaring the amounts;
  • Transferring money to other persons for the purpose of being accountable for it; and
  • Any other actions intended to conceal the existence of assets in connection with the divorce or legal separation (such as shifting expenses to a business owned by the spouse).

Also, generally speaking, automatic restraining orders usually apply to both parties in the divorce.  However, it can be somewhat common for only one party to file for an automatic restraining order against the other. This can happen if one partner has significantly more assets than the other, or if there are other issues involved like child or spousal support. 

Are There Legal Consequences for Violating an Automatic Restraining Order?

Yes- automatic restraining orders are formally issued by a judge in a court of law. Because of this, they are enforceable under state and local laws. Liability for hiding assets can result in serious legal consequences such as a contempt of court order. This can result in court fines or other similar penalties.

In addition, violating an automatic restraining order can affect that party’s rights in many other areas of their lives. Examples of this include their rights to child custody or their rights to visitation hours. 

What if Physical Protection is Needed?

Automatic restraining orders don’t provide 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 with the court. These can include orders such as an emergency protective order or a temporary restraining order

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

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

If you’re filing for divorce or legal separation, then the automatic restraining order usually needs to be filed at the beginning of the proceedings. You may need to hire an experienced family lawyer in your area for help with this, as divorce hearings can often be very complex. 

An attorney can help review your state’s laws and statutes with regards to automatic restraining orders. Also, your lawyer will be able to represent you in court during the actual court hearings and can provide advice during the process.