What Is an Automatic Temporary Injunction and How Might One Affect Me?

Some states prohibit you from taking certain actions that could disrupt your marital property while you’re going through a divorce. This is called an automatic temporary injunction. If you act in a way that violates the injunction, you could face consequences from the court. 

Automatic temporary injunctions go by other names, like an automatic temporary restraining order. No matter what it’s called, you need to be aware of what you can and cannot do once you file for divorce.

What is an injunction?

Webster defines an injunction as “a writ granted by a court of equity whereby one is required to do or to refrain from doing a specified act.” What does this mean in layperson’s terms? It means that you must follow what a court instructs you to do (or not do) regardless of your feelings on the matter. 

Courts enter injunctions for many reasons and in many circumstances. Injunctions may be entered in criminal proceedings or civil proceedings, including divorce.

Automatic temporary injunctions in divorce

An automatic temporary injunction is one of many court injunction types. It is called automatic because it’s entered by the court automatically at a certain stage of divorce filing – usually when the petition for dissolution is filed. It’s done automatically to protect both you and your spouse.

An automatic temporary injunction’s purpose is to keep marital property intact. The court order prohibits you and your spouse from taking actions that could destroy the marital property. For example, you cannot empty your marital bank account; you cannot sell the marital home; and you cannot use marital assets to buy new property while an automatic temporary injunction is in effect.

A temporary injunction lasts until your final divorce decree is entered – or until you dismiss the petition for dissolution or your spouse dismisses it or the court dismisses it.

Examples of automatic temporary injunctions

While automatic temporary injunctions serve to protect marital property, they vary from state to state. Here are a few examples. 

California injunctions

In California, these court orders are called “automatic temporary restraining orders.” California law prohibits spouses from doing any of the following:

  • Removing minor children from the state without permission from the other spouse or the court
  • Taking out a loan using community property
  • Using community property as collateral for a debt
  • Closing any bank accounts
  • Removing funds from any bank account
  • Cashing in a life insurance policy
  • Changing a beneficiary of a life insurance policy
  • Removing a spouse from health, dental, or vision insurance

Colorado injunctions

In Colorado, an injunction prohibits spouses from doing the following:

  • Disposing of marital property without the consent of the other spouse
  • Taking a minor child out of state without the consent of the other spouse or the court
  • Removing a spouse from any shared insurance without providing at least 14 days of advance notice

Texas injunctions

Texas, like California, calls these orders “automatic temporary restraining orders.” However, not every Texas county adheres to the “automatic” part of the term. In some counties, you must ask the court to enter an injunction. 

Like the other examples, Texas prohibits one spouse from using marital assets for personal benefit or to hurt the other spouse.

Utah injunctions

Utah calls these court orders “automatic restraining orders.” Similar to the other examples, Utah law prohibits one spouse from taking minor children out of the state and from taking any action that could diminish the value of the marital property. For example, the law prohibits spouses from doing the following:

  • Closing any bank accounts
  • Removing funds from bank accounts
  • Cashing in a life insurance policy
  • Changing a beneficiary of a life insurance policy
  • Removing a spouse from health, dental, or vision insurance

Will I be affected by automatic temporary injunctions?

If you’re going through a divorce, you will most likely be affected. While divorce proceedings vary by state, you can expect to face some restrictions on what you can do with marital property once your divorce is filed. If you live in a state that sets out an automatic temporary injunction, be prepared for limitations.

These restrictions may seem unfair and burdensome. Of course, you need money to pay your bills, to ensure your kids’ extracurricular activity payments are made, and to keep your life running. The court isn’t trying to prevent you from doing any of that. Instead, they are trying to prevent spouses from hurting one another and reducing the overall value of their assets.

Hello Divorce offers many plans and services to guide you through your divorce. We also offer a free 15-minute call to discuss your options with us.

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.