When you’re going through a divorce that seems like it came out of nowhere, the immediate concerns you’re facing can make it difficult to think very far ahead.
Will your spouse drain the bank account” Will they cut off all financial support and leave you without any money to pay the bills? Are they going to cancel your health insurance? The prospect of all of that happening at once can be terrifying – but you can get some relief through automatic temporary restraining orders (ATROs).
What do ATROs control?
An ATRO can be established as soon as a divorce petition is filed. Essentially, the purpose of the ATRO is to retain the “status quo” in the marriage until formal decisions can be made regarding the division of property, issues of support and other matters of concern.
In general, the ATRO applies to both spouses, and it will prohibit things like:
- Emptying bank accounts to deplete them (while still allowing money and assets to be used as normal for household expenses, business or attorney fees)
- Selling off any property, whether that is individually or jointly held, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, vehicles or jewelry without the consent of the other spouse
- Withdrawing, transferring or otherwise putting an encumbrance on any retirement funds (no matter whose name the account is in) without the other spouse’s permission
- Canceling a spouse’s health insurance coverage (including dental) or canceling the insurance for the couple’s children
- Running up unreasonably large amounts of debt (while still permitting whatever might be normal for the household or a spouse’s business)
- Canceling either party’s life insurance, auto insurance, homeowners or renters insurance policies that are already in effect.
- Changing the beneficiaries on any life insurance policies in a way that would affect the other party.
In other words, the court won’t permit one spouse to financially abuse the other during the divorce process. The ATRO isn’t intended to be punitive, but protective. Ignoring an ATRO is perilous, because the spouse who does so may find themselves in contempt of court for ignoring the court’s instructions. They may also be accused of dissipation of the martial assets, which can ultimately put them at a disadvantage when the court issues its final decree.
If a divorce has taken you by surprise, don’t panic. It can be a lot easier to manage with legal guidance by your side, and there are numerous ways to protect your interests.
At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation at 646-665-3903 or by contacting us online.
Let Me Be Your Brave
Mia Poppe, Esq.