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Automatic restraining orders on assets in Massachusetts divorce

When you think of a “restraining order,” you may imagine an order issued by a judge due to violence or something along those lines. However, in every divorce or support case, an automatic restraining order is issued in Massachusetts, and it has nothing to do with protecting a party from abuse.

What is the purpose of this restraining order?

This restraining order aims to keep the parties’ assets close to what they had before they filed for divorce. After the court issues this automatic restraining order, neither party can:

  1. Sell assets
  2. Put assets away (hide assets)
  3. Transfer assets to a third party

This restraining order prevents a party from doing anything that could potentially limit what the other party gets in the end via equitable distribution of assets.

Where did this rule originate?

This automatic restraining order stems from Massachusetts Supplemental Probate and Family Court‘s rule #411. In any case of divorce or support, it goes into effect upon serving the order.

What can parties do with their money after the restraining order is in effect?

The order allows parties to make sales or transfers of property to cover the party’s reasonable living expenses. Expenses in the usual course of business or related to attorney fees are also acceptable. In essence, the court wants to protect the parties’ assets. To do this, it “freezes” them and prevents either party from trying to take the money.

Speak with an experienced attorney about your financial concerns related to divorce. Your attorney can help you understand asset freezes and explain what to expect during a divorce.

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