Applying the Brakes with an ATROS

Applying the Brakes with an ATROS

Life moves fast sometimes. Take divorces, for example. The filing of a divorce petition may quickly set the divorcing couple in motion. The parties to the divorce react in different ways: one may become depressed, another focuses on any children involved. Unfortunately, some people immediately start closing bank accounts, taking possessions from the family home, and making drastic changes to insurance policies. An ATROS may help divorcing couples find some balance between what they want to do and what they are allowed to do.

What is an ATROS?

ATROS stands for Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders.

What exactly does this mean?

Occasionally, one party in a divorce may seek a temporary restraining order against their spouse due to domestic violence. However, ATROS is a standard order that is not based on domestic violence. It goes into effect as soon as the summons is served. In fact, the summons contains the terms of the ATROS, which should be read carefully.

What does an ATROS mean for me?

An ATROS applies to both parties. So, whether you filed the divorce or were served papers by your spouse, each of you is responsible for obeying the ATROS.

The ATROS restrains divorcing spouses from the following types of activities:

  • Children: Don’t take minor children out of state or apply for a passport without written consent from the other parent or from the court.
  • Insurance Policies: Don’t cash out, borrow against, cancel, transfer, terminate, or change any beneficiary designations for any insurance policies that benefit the parties or their children.
  • Property: This applies to any property, whether it is community, separate, quasi-community. Don’t transfer, borrow against, hide or dispose of property without a court order or consent from your spouse. The exception to this is that action can be taken regarding property if it’s being taken in the ‘normal course of business’ or to pay for necessities.
  • Nonprobate Transfers: Assets may pass to heirs through a probate proceeding. However, property also may be transferred to heirs through beneficiary designations or property titling instead of probate (nonprobate transfers). The ATROS restricts the parties from changing or adding any nonprobate transfers. This restriction may seem complicated, so let’s look at an example: Sam decides to divorce Diane. Sam is the named beneficiary of Diane’s retirement and savings accounts. As much as she wants to, Diane cannot change the beneficiary designations without Sam’s consent or a court order.
  • Extraordinary Expenditures: Do not pay any unusual or extraordinary expenses without notifying your spouse at least five days before incurring the expense. Remember that you will have to account for this type of purchase to the court.

Talk to an Attorney About Your ATROS.

Violating an ATROS can lead to fines, attorney’s fees, and criminal charges. Make sure you are in compliance by discussing your divorce and ATROS with a qualified California divorce attorney.

To make an appointment, please call us at 415-293-8314. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients in San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento) and surrounding communities. We are opening a new Beverly Hills office soon.