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Financial restraining orders in Massachusetts divorces

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2023 | Firm News

When we think of a “restraining order,” our minds usually think of an order of protection for domestic violence. However, any couple divorcing in Massachusetts will be subject to an automatic restraining order.

What is an automatic restraining order?

An automatic restraining order is an order issued by the court to protect the parties’ assets. It aims to prevent either party from making large purchases, taking out large sums of money, selling or hiding assets and transferring assets to third parties.

Where did this restraining order originate?

This order stems from Rule No. 411 of the Massachusetts Supplemental Probate and Family Court and is issued as a matter of course in every case of divorce or support. It goes into effect upon serving the order, usually shortly after the couple files for divorce.

Will my bank accounts continue to be operational?

Yes. The court allows the parties to continue spending their money in the same way as before, and their assets are not “frozen”. They can pay for their living expenses and whatever they are used to spending their money on. The parties cannot make any changes in their insurance coverage while this order is in place.

What happens if one of the parties violates the order?

If one of the parties violates an automatic restraining order, they could face sanctions and will be in contempt of court. In addition, the court would require that they return the items or money. Furthermore, the judge would probably order the individual who violated the order to pay the other party’s legal fees associated with filing a motion related to this matter.