Automatic Restraining Orders in Divorce Actions

What are the Restraining Orders that Automatically Apply in Divorce?

When Boston divorce and separate support actions are filed in court, there are automatic orders that restrict the parties to the case from doing certain things.  These orders are referred to as Automatic Restraining Orders or AROs.  The automatic orders apply to the plaintiff when the complaint if filed and the court clerk issues a summons.  The defendant is restricted by the Automatic Restraining Orders when he or she is served with the complaint and summons.

The AROs are specifically intended to make sure that the parties’ status quo is preserved until the court makes orders are certain issues.  The Commonwealth wants to ensure that neither party does anything inappropriate to gain an advantage in the case, for example, and to ensure that the parties’ respective positions as of the separation date is preserved.

The automatic orders restraining certain behaviors includes the following:

  • Neither party is allowed to sell, encumber, transfer, conceal, remove or dispose of real or personal property unless one of the exceptions applies;
  • Neither party is allowed to create new debts that would burden the credit of the other party (i.e. taking money from a line of credit secured by property); and
  • Neither party is allowed to change the beneficiary on life insurance, retirement, health insurance, etc.

The exceptions that allow a person to sell, encumber, conceal or dispose of real and personal property include paying for reasonable living expenses, transactions in the ordinary course of business or investing, or paying reasonable attorney fees.  Of course, the parties may agree to an exception of the rules, or the court may enter orders allowing certain behaviors.

Our law firm specializes in divorce and separate support cases, and we have extensive experience dealing with Automatic Restraining Orders.  We have filed motions to enforce these orders for example, and we have obtained sanctions awards for violations.  Call or email us today to schedule a free, initial consultation.

With offices in Needham, Hingham, New Bedford and Boston, our firm serves all courthouses in Suffolk, Plymouth, Middlesex, Norfolk and Bristol Counties.