Understanding An Automatic Restraining Order

When either spouse files for a divorce or legal separation in the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court, there are a number of restraining orders that automatically apply to both spouses. For the spouse who files for a divorce or legal separation, the restraining orders apply from the moment he or she files the initial Complaint with the court. For the other spouse, they apply as soon as he or she accepts service of process.

If you are going through a divorce in Cuyahoga County, it is important that you understand how these restraining affect you. It is also important to know what other non-automatic restraining orders may be available.

What Is An Automatic Restraining Order in a Cuyahoga County Divorce?

In the context of a divorce, a restraining order is an order from the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court that prohibits both spouses from undertaking certain actions while their divorce is pending. Violating a court order can have serious consequences, so you need to make sure that you comply. If you have questions, you should speak with an attorney before you jeopardize your legal rights.

The eight automatic restraining orders that apply in all divorces filed in Cuyahoga County cover:

1. Interfering with Your Spouse's Access to Your Children

Once either spouse initiates divorce proceedings, both spouses are prohibited from "[o]bstructing or interfering with" the other's parenting time or communication with the couple's minor children. There is an exception for circumstances where there is a Protection Order in place.

2. Disparaging Your Spouse in Front of Your Children

Both spouses must also refrain from "[d]isparaging, denigrating or otherwise speaking ill of" one another in the presence of the couple's minor children.

3. Getting Rid of Real Estate or Personal Property

During your divorce, you and your spouse will be prohibited from selling, hiding, damaging, encumbering any property "owned by both spouses, or either spouse, or a child," except with the other spouse's consent. This includes real estate, vehicles, jewelry, and other items of personal property.

4. Modifying Insurance Terms or Beneficiaries

You are both also prohibited from terminating, modifying the terms of, or changing the designated beneficiaries of any health, home, auto life, and other insurance policies that currently cover either of you or any of your children.

5. Making Extraordinary Use of a Retirement or Pension Plan

While your divorce is pending, you cannot cash in, borrow against, or take any other extraordinary actions affecting any of your retirement or pension accounts. However, you can continue to receive regular payments from a retirement or pension plan (if applicable).

6. Withdrawing Funds from a Joint Account

Similarly, while you and your spouse can continue to spend your regular income (salary or wages), the automatic restraining orders prohibit withdrawals from any other personal accounts during your divorce.

7. Removing Property from the Marital Residence

Neither you nor your spouse can remove any items of tangible personal property from your marital residence during your divorce. This does not apply to a spouse's own "clothing and personal effects or tools, equipment, books and papers incidental to the conduct of his/her trade, business or profession.

8. Incurring Joint Debt (Including Credit Card Debt)

Finally, the automatic restraining orders that apply during a divorce in Cuyahoga County prohibit both spouses from incurring debt either (i) in the spouses' joint names, or (ii) in the other spouse's name, except by written agreement or court order. This includes credit card debt.

What Other Restraining Orders Can I Seek Against My Spouse, If Necessary?

Note that in addition to these automatic restraining orders, in appropriate circumstances, spouses can seek additional restraining orders as well. Some of the most common divorce-related restraining orders include orders that:

  • Prohibit one spouse from returning to the marital residence;
  • Prohibit interference with either spouse's use of vehicles or other assets;
  • Prohibit the sale of a privately-owned business; and/or
  • Prohibit termination of utility services.

Laubacher & Co. | Experienced Divorce Attorneys Serving Cuyahoga County

Laubacher & Co. is a Cleveland family law firm that represents individuals in divorces throughout Cuyahoga County. If you have questions about the automatic restraining orders or would like to speak with an attorney about your divorce, call 440-462-1882 or send us a request online to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.

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