What Is an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO)?

Divorce can be an emotionally challenging and complicated process. As you navigate the legal intricacies, it's essential to understand the key aspects of automatic temporary restraining orders (ATROs) – their benefits, limitations, and the potential for ATRO modification.

What is an ATRO?

An ATRO is a legal order that takes effect as soon as a divorce case is initiated. It aims to maintain the status quo and safeguard the rights and interests of both parties involved until a final agreement or judgment is reached.

ATROs are typically applied to both spouses in a divorce. They are there to ensure that neither party makes significant financial or personal decisions without the other's consent or a court order. 

Here are a few examples of ATROs at work:

  • John and Jane decide to divorce. To prevent either of them from selling their shared property or draining their joint bank account, an ATRO is automatically put in place.
  • Sarah and Tom have children together and are undergoing a divorce. An ATRO prevents either parent from relocating the children to another state or country without the other's consent or a court order.

What benefits does an ATRO offer?

ATROs provide several benefits during a divorce, such as the following:

Protection of marital assets

ATROs can prevent spouses from selling, transferring, or disposing of shared assets. It minimizes the threat of any unfair or impulsive actions.

Financial stability

Both parties are restricted from incurring new debt or liabilities in each other's names, preserving their credit scores and financial stability.

Insurance and beneficiary maintenance

ATROs require that existing health, auto, and property insurance coverage remain unchanged. This helps promote continued protection for both spouses and their children.

Child custody stability

ATROs prevent either parent from relocating the children without consent or a court order, providing stability during the divorce process.

What can’t I do with an ATRO in place?

While ATROs protect both spouses, there are certain actions that cannot be taken during divorce proceedings, including the following:

  • Selling or transferring marital assets
  • Incurring new debt or liabilities in the other spouse's name
  • Changing beneficiaries on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or other financial instruments
  • Relocating children outside of the current jurisdiction without consent or a court order
  • Modifying existing insurance coverage levels or beneficiaries

Can my spouse and I modify ATROs or agree to no ATROs?

Yes, spouses can mutually agree to modify or waive certain ATRO provisions. However, this should be done under the guidance of experienced family law attorneys to make sure both parties' interests are protected. 

Any changes to the ATRO must be documented in writing and approved by the court.

At Hello Divorce, we’re thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the divorce process. To learn about our online divorce plans and services, schedule a free 15-minute phone call.

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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.