If you have filed or been served with a Petition for Dissolution (Divorce), one of the first things you should do is read the Summons (Form FL-110) carefully. Click here to see the Summons.
The focus of this article will be the Standard Family Law Restraining Orders found on Page 2 of the Summons. Irrespective of whether you are the Petitioner or the Respondent, these orders, typically referred to as the “ATROs”, or automatic mutual restraining orders, apply to both parties in a divorce proceeding and go into effect immediately upon filing or service of the Summons. These orders remain binding upon both parties until entry of final Judgment, dismissal of the petition, or further court order.
“ATROs” in a Divorce
You and your spouse are restrained from the following while your divorce is pending:
- Removing the minor child(ren) from the state and applying for new or replacement passports on the child(ren)’s behalf;
- 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(ren);
- Transferring, encumbering, hypothecating, concealing, or in any way disposing of any real or personal property, whether community, quasi-community, or separate, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life; and
- Creating a nonprobate transfer or modifying a nonprobate transfer in a manner that affects the disposition of property subject to the transfer.
Any of these orders may be suspended by written agreement/consent between the parties or an order of the court.
What Do These Orders Mean?
The ATROs are immediately in effect when a person files or is served with the Summons. These orders freeze all significant transactions while the divorce is pending. Why? Well, imagine a scenario where a person is served with divorce papers and immediately cancels the other person’s health insurance. Or sells an investment property. Or cashes a retirement account. Doesn’t sound fair, does it? That’s because these transactions may inevitably affect the community and put the other at a significant disadvantage without their knowledge or consent. The ATROs are necessary so that all property can be divided legally and equitably through the divorce; not through one person’s unilateral actions.
If you are the party filing for divorce, remember that your spouse is not restrained until they are served with the Summons. As such, you should strive to have your spouse served as close to your filing as possible. If you are served with a Summons, read it carefully and follow the ATROs.
Feel free to contact one of the attorneys at The Zarin Law Firm for more information about the Summons and other family law-related information.