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What are ATROs?

By Henry F. Lewis on May 26, 2017

In California divorces, there are a lot of acronyms that get tossed around.  One of the most common are the ATROs, or Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders.  These orders are contained within the summons, and go into effect in each and every divorce that is filed in California.  These orders apply to the Petitioner in a case as soon the petition is filed.  They do not, however, apply to the Respondent until they have been served with them.

There are 4 specific ATROs, but they all boil down to the following:  The Court does not want either party making changes to the beneficiaries, insurance coverage, trying to hide or give away money, or taking the children out of state.   If either party does this in violation of the ATROs, they can face sanctions from the court.  Unfortunately, a lot of parties do not read the summons completely, and are not aware of these orders until they have inadvertently violated them.

Having the ATROs in effect does not, however, mean that these changes can never happen.  All of the prohibitions contained within the ATROs can be conducted with the permission of the other party, or a court order.    Also, too often, parties and attorneys try to use the ATROs as litigation weapons, alleging violations when none exist. 

The ATROs do not prohibit the spending of community property money, for example, except in the cases of extraordinary expenditures.  In other words, you can buy food and pay rent, but shouldn’t be purchasing a new boat.  The ATROs also did not prohibit changing your will, severing joint tenancies, continuing to operate businesses, or paying attorney fees.

As is often the case, being aware of the actual ATROs will help you avoid getting in trouble with the Court and also avoid being taken advantage of by someone who generalizes the ATROs to any spending of community property money.

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More Info Directions (510) 451-4822