California is one of a handful of states that provide for automatic temporary restraining orders, or ATROs, during divorce proceedings. If you're the spouse who initiates the divorce, the order restrains you from taking certain actions as soon as you file. The ATRO restrains your spouse as soon as he's served with your divorce documents.
A California ATRO prohibits you and your spouse from removing your children from the state during the divorce proceedings. It also bars you from canceling or changing any health, automobile, life or disability insurance policies in effect. You can't sell, give away, encumber or conceal assets, whether they're marital or your own separate, premarital property. You can access marital money to pay your lawyer, however, and necessary living expenses. You can also change your will without violating the terms of the ATRO.
Modifying the Order
Occasionally, circumstances demand that the terms of an ATRO be modified or set aside. For example, you may have a buyer for your home and if you can't go through with the deal, you'll lose him. In cases such as this, you can petition the court to modify the ATRO, allowing this specific transaction. You can also petition the court to include additional prohibitions if you're worried that your spouse won't behave appropriately during the proceedings. Your final decree supersedes the ATRO; when you're officially divorced, the restraining order is terminated.