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What is a Divorce Restraining Order?

What is a Divorce Restraining Order

A number of times, a resentful spouse’s actions during a divorce can result into significant emotional and financial hardships. Some of these unhealthy behaviors can be stopped through a temporary restraining order (TRO).

Temporary restraining order

A temporary restraining order is essential to maintain the status quo until the divorce process is over. It’s a court order that temporarily prohibits a spouse from taking certain vindictive or greedy actions during the divorce proceeding. Some of the actions that the court may grant restraining orders upon, include the following:

  • Putting away the children and moving them out of the country
  • Wiping out bank accounts
  • Canceling insurance policies, like health and car insurance
  • Altering the beneficiaries on a life insurance policy
  • Borrowing with joint assets like a house as collateral, and
  • Taking out money from a retirement account.
  • Selling or disposing off property owned by the parties

If you’re concerned that your spouse may do any of these, a TRO may be necessary to maintain the status quo till your divorce is over. This is known as a temporary restraining order because it usually expires at the end of the divorce process. After the divorce process, the spouses will make resolution to a variety of the aspects of the divorce by reaching a settlement, or through the decision of a court regarding those issues.

In any of these cases, the result will be a written judgment which includes the settlement agreement or the court’s decree. By this time, the Temporary Restraining Order will no longer be required.

Final restraining order

Another reason why court can issue a restraining order is for issues of domestic violence. When this is involved, the court would normally order the alleged offending spouse to stay away from the other spouse and the children until after the full hearing. This can last for about a week or so.

During the court hearing, the court will decide if there is evidence of domestic violence in which case it may then issue a final restraining order to the offending spouse. This prevents the spouse involved from making contact with the other spouse and children and specifying any other appropriate conditions like supervised visitation. A domestic violence final restraining order may continue to be in effect after the end of the divorce process.

How to obtain a temporary restraining order in a divorce

When spouses apply for a Temporary restraining order for reasons not involving domestic violence, they normally make their request together with the filing of the divorce petition. If you’re concerned that your spouse may leave the area with your children or use all your marital savings, you will need to apply to the court to get some protections as soon as possible. Nevertheless, a court can issue a Temporary restraining order at any time during the divorce, for many other reasons.

Automatic restraining order

Some states, like Ohio and California take a practical approach to preserve the status quo from the start of the divorce process. These states make use of what is referred to as Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (ATROs), which takes effect automatically as soon as the divorce petition  is filed.


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