Welcome to the thirty-ninth episode of the Divorce and Your Money Podcast. Shawn Leamon, MBA and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, discusses the Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO).
An Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO) is a legal means to protect you financially during the divorce process. It restricts you and your spouse from doing the following things:
Selling or transferring property
Insurance policy sale or beneficiary changes
Withdrawing a large sum of money from joint accounts
Destroying or hiding any assets
This type of restraining order only applies to finances. It freezes joint accounts so that your spouse cannot empty them. It can also aid accountants in estimating the value of property, as it prevents any changes involving property.
An important point is that you don’t necessarily automatically have an ATRO in your divorce. You have to check with your divorce filing and your attorney. It varies by state, and it might not be included in some states. The goal is to prevent your spouse from doing anything shady or suspicious during the divorce. For example, in the case of a joint account, it prohibits one spouse from draining the account, hence saving the funds. Severe consequences are involved for violating an ATRO, as it is a court order.
Once it is in place, you need to check with your attorney and all accounts that will be affected by this order. In some states, both spouses need to agree to allow withdrawal from a joint account. An ATRO can be a very useful tool to safeguard your financial interests.
Key Learning Points:
- An Automatic Temporary Restraining Order is a legal order to protect you financially during the divorce process.
- It prohibits both spouses from selling or transferring property, borrowing property, sale of an insurance policy or beneficiary changes, withdrawing a large sum from joint accounts, and destroying or hiding any assets during the divorce process.
- It can aid accountants in estimating the value of property.
- There are severe consequences for violating an ATRO, as it is a court order.
- Notify all involved financial institutions if you have an ATRO in place.
- State laws vary on this matter.