Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (ATROS) consist of orders that go into effect automatically upon the issuance of a summons in conjunction with a divorce petition, legal separation, nullity or paternity action. It is similar to commonly used restraining orders to protect individuals when going through divorce. Instead of physical protection, however, it is financial protection to ensure that a spouse does not engage in financial indiscretions or rearrangements of assets. General examples would be:
- Changing or opening bank accounts
- Hiding community assets or destroying them
- Selling or transferring community assets
- Changing the names on insurance polices
- Hiding or altering retirement accounts
The ATROS also apply to children if they live here in California. The idea is to prevent children from being removed from the state by a parent against the will of the other parent. Depending on the circumstances of the divorce, this may modified to fit the needs of the family, say if a grandparent lives in another state or the family has a vacation property elsewhere.
The idea is to maintain the financial status quo until the estate is equitably divided. The ATROS remain in effect until the judgment is final, the petition is dismissed or the court modifies them. Either party may ask the Court for a modification, expansion or revocation of the ATROS until the divorce is final. Other orders will go into effect once the divorce or dispute is finalized.
What is exempt from an ATROS?
There are a few financial arrangements that can be conducted while the ATROS are in effect. These include:
- Drafting a will
- Severing joint tenancy if the spouse is notified
- Those who buy and sell assets or real property as part of their work may be able to continue to do so
Other important details
California family courts can order restitution for lost assets, profits and more. There is even the potential for criminal prosecution. An attorney with experience handling family law in California can be a tremendous help during the divorce process. A good attorney will make sure the other side honors the ATROS, whether the community estate is modest or if the estate includes a large and complex portfolio that requires thorough scrutiny.