You may have heard the acronym “ATROS”, and may think the speaker is talking about baseball, but which actually refers to standard “standing orders” issued in several counties in Family Law cases. However, Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (ATROS) consist of an actual restraining order based on issuance of citation usually related to a divorce, suit affecting the Parent-Child relationship, annulment or paternity action. Rather than the physical and emotional protection provided by a conventional restraining order, ATROS essentially freezes the couple’s marital estate if any, and mutually restrains each party until the matter is finalized in court or further order of the Court. In some counties these are automatically issued,.
Protecting finances for both sides
The purpose of this bilateral action is to ensure that one spouse does not try to engage in misconduct and/or in financial indiscretions during the legal process. General financial activities that are forbidden under ATROS include:
- Opening new bank accounts
- Closing or changing bank accounts
- Hiding community property
- Destroying community property
- Selling or transferring community property
- Hiding retirement accounts
- Changing the name on insurance policies or wills
- Incurring unreasonable debts
This can be particularly beneficial if one spouse does not have control over the family’s finances.
What is not covered in ATROS
Although these will be watched to ensure compliance, there are exceptions. They are:
- Paying the usual living expenses that are part of the family
- The usual business expenses, even if this includes trading stocks or selling real property
- Other decisions that both parties agree upon
- Paying for reasonable and necessary legal expenses incurred in this case between these parties
What if they violate this order?
If one party attempts to violate the order without agreement by the other side or the court’s permission, there are significant penalties that the Court may levy, which can include large fines, further restrictions, and even criminal charges. A knowledgeable Texas Board-certified Family Law expert attorney can be a big help in protecting a client’s assets during the division of community property, if any, particularly when the estate is large and complex, as well as advising a client on the legal effects of an automatic temporary restraining order in non-divorce cases.