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The moment that divorce papers are filed, the divorcing couple are bound by something known as an automatic temporary restraining order (ATRO).

ATROs are a type of court order, known as an injunction, put in place in order to maintain "the status quo" while a couple works out the details of a divorce. In general, ATROs are designed to prevent either party to a divorce from making a grab for the marital assets or doing something that could affect the other spouse's parental rights.

Whether you file the petition for a divorce with the courts or are the spouse who is served with a petition, you're equally bound by the ATROs in place. In general, here are some of the things that you need to keep in mind:

  1. You can't take the children out of the state. This rule is in place to prevent a parent from taking the children to another state where they feel that they may receive more favorable treatment in a custody battle. However, you need to remember that it applies even to temporary visits -- like vacations. Unless you get the court's permission, the children cannot leave the state.
  2. You cannot sell or give away your property. Even if you feel like something is clearly "yours," like a piece of jewelry or an expensive watch, you can't get rid of anything that might be considered a marital asset until the court says that it is yours.
  3. You cannot lower the value of a piece of property. This means that you can't purposefully damage something you own in an act of revenge against your spouse. It also means that you can't take a loan out that would reduce the equity in your home or car.
  4. You can't empty the bank accounts. You are only permitted to take money out for ordinary, necessary expenses.
  5. You can't cancel the insurance. This includes your spouse's health insurance, car insurance, life insurance and home insurance. If you're paying it now, you have to continue paying it until the court says otherwise. You also cannot change the beneficiaries.

We can help you understand, in advance, what you need to know and what you should do to plan a successful divorce. For more specific information, please contact our office.

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