California Family Code 2040

California Family Codes
California Family Code 2040

California Family Code 2040 Attorney

Ending a marriage is not an easy process, but it can be made significantly more difficult when emotions get in the way. If you or your former spouse are angry, hurt, or upset during the divorce process, it can be challenging to reach equitable agreements. There is also a risk, in these situations, of one spouse making decisions during the divorce specifically to harm the other party.

If a divorce is particularly contentious, one party may try to intentionally harm the other by selling major assets, moving children unexpectedly, or removing a partner’s access to necessary insurance. To avoid this, California passed Family Code 2040, which allows for a restraining order to keep either party from making any major changes to their circumstances. If you are unsure about how these orders impact you, the team at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can help

The Purpose of Restraining Orders

Restraining orders can serve several purposes, depending on why they are put in place. Overall, a restraining order is intended to stop a certain type of action from happening. Some restraining orders are intended to be a means of physical protection, particularly if someone is being stalked, harassed, or abused. In other circumstances, a restraining order will stop someone from making financial and personal decisions that may harm another person. These restraining orders are used during the divorce process in California.

What Is an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order?

California Family Code 2040 establishes the use of Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders, also called ATROs, to help ensure that the divorce is as fair and equitable as possible. These orders are automatically put in place as soon as one party files for divorce. The terms of these orders are contained in the summons for a Dissolution of Marriage and must be followed by both parties. While each party is held to the terms of an ATRO, the courts do not inform any banks or other institutions of the order. Both parties will have to either inform their necessary institutions themselves or simply follow an honor system.

Restricted Actions According to an ATRO

When a Dissolution of Marriage is initiated, an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order is established. These orders restrict both parties from doing several specific things. When you are under the terms of an ATRO, you cannot:

  • Relocate Minor Children: Relocation following a divorce is necessary at times, often for a new job opportunity or to be closer to family and friends so you can have a support system. If you share children with your former spouse, however, relocating can be more difficult. During a divorce in California, you are not able to move any minor children out of the state unless you have express written permission from the other parent.
  • Move or Sell Property: Dividing assets is one of the major steps of a divorce, and California works to ensure that all community assets and property are divided equally. An ATRO bars both parties from:
    • Using shared property or assets as collateral
    • Taking out loans on community property
    • Giving objects from a safety deposit box to a third party
    • Removing money from a joint checking account into personal accounts

    This ensures that all community property is disclosed and divided evenly.

  • Make Changes to Insurance Policies: When you are ending a marriage, it may seem important to remove your spouse as a beneficiary from any insurance plans, such as healthcare and auto insurance. This is understandable, but it cannot happen until the divorce is finalized to ensure that all assets are accounted for.

These are the general terms of an ATRO in most cases, but they can be changed. If you believe that the terms are unfair or do not meet your needs, then you can petition for them to be changed. For this to be accepted, however, both spouses must agree to the proposed changes.


Q: How Does a Restraining Order Affect a Divorce in California?

A: Restraining orders can be put in place for many different things. During a divorce in California, an ATRO, or Automatic Temporary Restraining Order, goes into effect for financial reasons. This order keeps a spouse from making any major financial decisions, such as changing an insurance policy or a bank account, while the divorce is in process. The purpose of this is to ensure that the agency of either party is not violated.

Q: What Happens If My Husband Violates the Terms of the ATRO?

A: When an ATRO is put in place, both parties are required to follow the same guidelines, but they must both agree if any of the terms are to be changed. Violating an ATRO during divorce proceedings is very serious and can be considered a criminal offense. In many cases, once an ATRO violation is reported, then the divorce will be halted until the criminal charges are concluded.

Q: What Are the Exceptions to ATROs?

A: The purpose of an ATRO is to ensure that the divorce is fair and equitable so that neither party will have an unfair advantage. To accomplish this, the order restricts the sale or movement of assets, property, insurance, and children. The two exceptions to an ATRO are the movement of assets in the course of regular business and the sale of assets to provide for necessities.

Q: What Is a Protective Order in a California Divorce?

A: ATROs during a California divorce are mutual and impact both parties to ensure that the divorce is finalized fairly. Protective orders serve a different purpose during a divorce. They are intended as an additional means of protection for individuals who are leaving a violent or abusive marriage. A protective order can ensure that the violent party is not able to contact or interact with the victim at all.

Trust Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, for Your ATRO Needs

Divorce can be a long and overwhelming process, even under the most ideal circumstances. If you have a contentious or difficult relationship with your former spouse, you may be concerned that they will make the process more difficult by relocating children, removing your access to various accounts, or changing insurance plans. California Family Code 2040 details the use of ATROs to ensure that the divorce proceedings are handled correctly. The experienced family law attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can help you understand the rules of an ATRO and ensure it is followed. Contact our office for all your restraining order needs.

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