Automatic Injunctions And Divorce: What To Keep In Mind

Law Blog

Have you been considering divorce for a long time? Is it clear that your spouse is ready to end the marriage? If either of those things are true, it's important to understand what happens as soon as the first official papers leading to a divorce are filed.

As soon as either you or your spouse have filed a petition for divorce, something known as an automatic temporary restraining order (or automatic temporary injunction) will likely go into place. Even if your state doesn't have an automatic injunction, you can bet that your divorce lawyer or your spouse's divorce lawyer will ask the court to impose an injunction as a matter of course when filing the paperwork.

An injunction is a type of court order that puts rules in place that the court hopes will protect the legal interests of both parties. During a divorce, injunctions are designed to make sure that neither party takes a "grab and keep" approach to the marital assets before the court has a chance to step in and make sure that everything is divided according to the laws in your state.

While the laws vary a bit from state to state, here are some common expectations:

  1. All existing insurance coverage has to remain in place. That means that if you're currently carrying your spouse on your insurance at work, you can't switch to "self only" coverage -- even if it is significantly cheaper. In addition, you can't change the coverage (or stop paying) on life insurance policies, auto insurance, home insurance, or rental insurance.
  2. You cannot take money out of the joint marital accounts, except for your ordinary living expenses. For example, you can continue withdrawing money from the joint accounts to take care of the house or pay the utilities, but emptying the savings to go on a sudden vacation isn't permitted. Those assets have to be divided fairly between you and your spouse.
  3. You cannot use up, destroy, ruin, or sell any marital assets. The court has a duty to make sure that all the marital assets — everything from the money in your account to the fine china in your cupboard — is preserved in its present state until they've been divided between you and your spouse. While it might feel cathartic, for example, to destroy your spouse's collection of collectible figures, that would end up coming back to haunt you in court.

Because of these injunctions, it may be wise to time the filing of your divorce carefully. For example, you may need to discreetly remove enough money from the joint savings account to set up your new apartment before you file — because that money will be off-limits afterward. For more specific advice on what to do (and what to expect) talk to you divorce lawyer today.


28 December 2018

family law - impacting your life

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