What Is an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order?


When you file for divorce in Pasadena, the judge will issue an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO). This applies to both parties in a divorce proceeding. Its purpose is to protect each spouse, any children they may have together, and their property during divorce negotiations. It remains in effect until the court enters a final judgment or until there is another order that terminates or modifies the ATRO. The ATRO will also be thrown out if the parties dismiss the divorce suit.

There are several financial protections that an ATRO offers: Persons in the middle of a divorce can't close or draw down bank accounts; They can only spend money for ordinary living expenses and attorney's fees; They can't take out a loan and use marital property as collateral; They may change the beneficiary on their will, but they are not allowed to change the beneficiary designations on any insurance policies without consent or choose to cash in a policy.

Acts of property destruction such as keying a car or smashing windows are prohibited under the ATRO. This type of property damage is sometimes called "insurance revenge." Lawyers generally recommend that you contact your insurance carrier to alert them to the possibility of problems if you are concerned about this type of misbehavior from your spouse. Changing locks and/or alarm codes is also a good idea.

When a spouse violates the ATRO, he or she is subject to a contempt order from the court. Penalties for contempt of court can include fines and/or jail time.

If you are worried about a vindictive ex-spouse, discuss this issue with your Pasadena divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances, he or she might recommend additional precautions, such as a domestic violence restraining order or having your ex be required to surrender his or her passport to prevent your children from being taken out of the country.