Could a Restraining Order Affect Property Division in a Divorce?
The magic of Hollywood always makes it look like love will last forever. But just like real life, reality show relationships face a variety of strains. Sometimes, as the dramatic lighting dims, the passion dims with it. At other times, love can sour and leave a couple pushing and pulling at what remains of the union.
One of the latest casualties in the much-publicized reality couple breakup news cycle is two of the stars from 90 Day Fiancé—Chantel Everett and Pedro Jimeno. The couple was featured on the fourth season of the TLC reality series. Their season garnered a spinoff series—The Family Chantel.
Both shows were full of tense scenes, bickering family members, and a stressed couple with a fragile relationship teetering on the edge of a cliff. The two separated in April, and in July, the relationship slid completely off the edge and splintered into the broken mess of a contentious divorce.
After Chantel allegedly took the money from a joint business account, Pedro filed for a restraining order. A mutual restraining order was granted, restricting the couple from transferring, trading, or selling their mutually owned property until the divorce is resolved. It also prohibits them from disconnecting home utilities or changing details on their insurance policies.
Restraining orders are common during the divorce process. The question is which type of restraining order a family court should issue. Each kind can impact a family in several ways. When entering into this process, it is essential to know how and why to file for one and what affects the order will have on a family.
Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO)
This is the type of restraining order that was granted to Everett and Jimeno. An automatic temporary restraining order (ATRO) is also known as a financial restraining order. These exist to ensure spouses stay civil during the dissolution of the marriage. To establish an even playing field, a California court issues an ATRO and notifies the spouses by sending it with the divorce papers.
These orders set the tone by preventing spouses from engaging in detrimental acts like:
- Removing money from joint bank accounts
- Canceling home utilities, a spouse may be using
- Selling shared property or assets
- Altering insurance policies or healthcare coverage
- Modifying living wills and trusts or changing the beneficiaries
- Moving children from the home or moving to another state
- Spending excessively
- Withdrawing or transferring funds from retirement accounts
- Taking out loans by using joint assets as collateral
Only meant to be used during the dissolution of marriage, ATROs go away once the divorce process ends. Who knows, it may be a 90-day divorce. After the division of assets agreement dissolves, the ATRO dissolves, leaving spouses free to move ahead with their new lives as long as the divorce settlement is not violated.
The Horrors of Another High-Profile Divorce
In August, the husband of an Irvine dermatologist filed for divorce and sought a restraining order after he alleged his wife poured Drano into his lemonade with the intention of poisoning him. The order was granted by a judge, and the dermatologist also must keep her distance from their seven and eight-year-old children.
The husband went to the police and showed them camera footage where allegedly the dermatologist was pouring drain cleaner into her husband’s drink inside the kitchen of their $2.7 million mansion. He said she did it on at least three separate occasions. He claims his esophagus suffered swelling, and his stomach developed ulcers from drinking the Drano-spiked lemonade.
Police arrested her, and she was released on a $30,000 bond the next day. The dermatologist and her representation call the accusations absurd and claim she is being defamed and framed.
The dermatologist maintains she poured the Drano into an empty cup and only used it to unclog the sink. She asserts her husband’s poisoning claim is part of his plan to divorce her and gain custody of the children.
For now, the restraining order ensures the dermatologist has to stay away from her estranged husband and her children during the divorce process.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order or Protective Order
If a spouse or children either fear or are currently suffering physical or emotional harm from the other spouse, a protective order can be requested. Once the paperwork is complete and filed with the court, a hearing will be set where a judge speaks to the spouse filing the order. The judge will then grant or deny the restraining order.
If a domestic violence restraining order is granted, parameters are set for the offending spouse. Violations of the limits set by the order are deemed a criminal offense and usually result in arrest and additional penalties in the future.
If the courts are unavailable and a domestic abuse victim needs protection against an offender immediately, law enforcement officers can be consulted which may result in an Emergency Protective Order (EPO), which can offer an urgent safeguard to an immediate danger.
An officer of the law will need to request the EPO from a judicial officer. The issued EPO is a temporary measure, but it allows the victim the time to file for a protective order to be granted through the courts.
Effects of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order on Divorce Proceedings
In typical divorce proceedings, spouses will meet to discuss property and asset division, child custody, and spousal support. A domestic violence restraining order prevents the abusive spouse from coming too near the spouse, making negotiations almost impossible.
Even eschewing litigation and allowing attorneys to function as intermediates and negotiate the divorce settlement for each spouse, a history of abuse creates contention and complicates the process.
Because the family home is community property, both spouses have the option of staying in the house until the divorce settlement is finalized. A domestic violence restraining order may prohibit the accused abuser from living under the same roof.
The largest consequence of a domestic violence restraining order concerns spousal support. Under California Family Code, anyone with a domestic violence conviction within five years of the divorce agreement cannot receive spousal support.