How do I protect myself financially once a divorce is filed?
Once a divorce is filed, the court automatically issues what is called a mutual restraining order. This restraining order prohibits the parties from taking debts in the other’s name; disposing of or destroying assets; terminating insurance; changing beneficiaries; withdrawing, spending, or transferring funds in a bank; terminating household utilities; among many other actions. If a party violates the restraining order, the other party may ask the court to force the party to pay back the money lost and may award other damages.
Forcing the parties to leave bank accounts untouched is not practical for most people. The parties are expected to continue paying their household bills, in the same manner, they paid them during the marriage. Sometimes it is best for the parties to each start a new, separate account and begins placing money in that account once the divorce is filed. This enables the parties to abide by the restraining order, but still have access to their money.
Another workaround to the restraining order is the temporary orders that can be put in place. (If you would like to read more about temporary orders, please click HERE). A party may ask the court to order their spouse to contribute to expenses and debts that the parties have incurred during their marriage. These debts can be as small as utility bills or can be as large as mortgages on a residence. Asking for contributions from the other party may help keep the status quo while the divorce is pending, so one party is not forced to be paying all debts during that time.