Spouses that file for divorce or spouses that are contemplating divorce should be aware of the fact that in every Massachusetts divorce case there is an automatic restraining order. This automatic restraining order is in effect for the Plaintiff-spouse upon his/her filing of the divorce complaint and is in effect for the Defendant-spouse upon service of the divorce complaint. The automatic restraining order remains in effect until the conclusion of the divorce action, unless modified by agreement of the parties or order of the Court. The automatic restraining order, which is codified as Massachusetts Supplemental Probate and Family Court Rule 411, provides as follows:
- “Neither party shall sell, transfer, encumber, conceal, assign, remove or in any way dispose of any property, real or personal, belonging to or acquired by, either party, except:
- as required for reasonable expenses of living
- in the ordinary and usual course of business
- in the ordinary and usual course of investing
- for payment of reasonable attorney's fees and costs in connection with the action
- written agreement of both parties
- by order of the court
- Neither party shall incur any further debts that would burden the credit of the other party, including but not limited to further borrowing against any credit line secured by the marital residence or unreasonably using credit cards or cash advances against credit or bank cards.
- Neither party shall directly or indirectly change the beneficiary of any life insurance policy, pension or retirement plan, or pension or retirement investment account, except with the written consent of the other party or by order of the court.
- Neither party shall directly or indirectly cause the other party or the minor child(ren) to be removed from coverage under an existing insurance policy, including medical, dental, life, automobile, and disability insurance. The parties shall maintain all insurance coverage in full force and effect.”
It is important that the parties to a divorce action are aware of this court order so that they do not violate the terms, which could expose the violating party to court sanctions.