How Automatic Restraining Orders (ATROS) Affect YOU - The Men's Legal Center


Automatic Restraining Orders (ATROs) are a group of civil orders that affect any party in any action involving dissolution, legal separation, dissolution of registered domestic partnership, or nullity of marriage. The purpose is to attempt to stall the custodial and financial situation of the parties so their custodial and financial circumstances can be untangled with court supervision during the dissolution process. They prevent parties from engaging in retaliatory moves against the other party.

Failure to abide by them may result in civil and/or criminal penalties.  ASTROS restrains several areas including children, property, living expenses, etc. Both parties are restrained from removing any minor child(ren) from California unless both parties agree to the same in writing or a court order.  

Both parties are prohibited from transferring, encumbering, hypothecating, concealing, or disposing of any real or personal property in any way, unless both parties agree to the same in writing or the court makes an order allowing a specific action.  The only exception is if reasonable action is needed to continue with the regular course of business or for life’s necessities.  

Each party is restrained from cashing out, borrowing against, canceling, transferring, disposing of, or changing the beneficiaries of other coverage, including but not limited to that related to life, health, automobile, and disability insurance.  This means that if Wife carried Husband on her health insurance and paid for any other coverage for him and/or the family, she must continue to maintain all coverage until a written agreement between the parties provides otherwise, or further court order.

Pursuant to the Family Code, if a party violates the ATROS, he/she could also be found in “contempt” of court.  This means that a party has willfully disobeyed the law. If a party is found in contempt of court for violating the ATROS, he or she could be subject to civil penalties, criminal penalties, or both.

In the event that a party violates the ATROS without intending to do so, which results in an impairment of the other spouse’s undivided one-half interest of the community property, that Court may find that the party breached his or her fiduciary duty to the other to maintain community assets. Therefore, the impaired spouse becomes eligible for fiduciary duty remedies under the Family Code. ATRO violations, in some cases, could subject the violator to criminal penalties set forth in the California Penal Code.   

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