What is an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order?

Generally, when you hear the words “restraining order” the first response is to think about spousal abuse or violence. That is not the same thing as an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order. It is a legal measure that ensures that neither partner tries to short change the other spouse during the divorce.

Once the divorce paperwork is filed, it can include an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO). This document serves as a mutual order that stops either party from doing any of the following:

  • Changing beneficiaries of insurance policies, wills, retirement accounts, or others
  • Selling, mortgaging, or transferring any property
  • Hiding or eliminating assets
  • Modifying any bank or investment accounts

The ATRO is partially a misnomer. While it is called Automatic, it will have to be requested by your attorney. Also, you should not assume that all your policies and accounts are aware of this court order. You may want to contact each account separately to monitor your accounts. If your spouse does disregard the ATRO, then they could be subject to tough penalties.

There are certain exceptions to this order. It does not mean that you can't use your bank account. You just have to continue to pay for the things like always such as credit card bills, groceries and utility charges. You should be able to pay for your legal counsel during the divorce process. ATROs can be amended to include other kinds of usage of shared, marital assets but that change must be agreed to by both parties.

To make sure you are prepared for divorce, it may be a good opportunity to plan around an ATRO. Depending on your situation, you might even consider withdrawing a sum of money before filing. This way you can circumvent the power of the ATRO while securing the change that you want. If you have more questions about this legal action or other questions about divorce, contact an experienced divorce attorney in Naperville today.

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