Are Restraining Orders Standard for a Divorce?

By Heather Frances J.D.

A restraining order prevents a person from taking a certain action, and two types of restraining orders are common in the context of divorce: automatic restraining orders and domestic violence restraining orders. Though laws regarding this issue differ between states, an automatic restraining order typically keeps spouses from actions like selling property or moving the children, whereas a domestic violence restraining order keeps spouses away from each other.

Automatic Restraining Order

In some states, spouses are automatically restrained from taking specified actions after they file for divorce; these automatic orders are effective immediately when a spouse files the divorce papers and serves them on the other spouse. Such orders are standard in states that have them, though not all states do. An automatic restraining order applies equally to both spouses, regardless of which spouse filed the divorce paperwork.


The contents of an automatic restraining order vary between states, and the spouses’ conduct is governed by the specific language in the order. Orders may contain terms that address whether spouses can sell property, put liens against property, change life insurance beneficiaries or withdraw money from bank accounts. Some orders address procedures for taking a child out of state before the divorce is final, and one spouse may have to get written permission from the other to leave the state with the couple’s children. These orders generally expire once a couple’s divorce is final.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Changing an Automatic Restraining Order

An automatic restraining order may not fit every situation. Some states, like California and Massachusetts, have automatic restraining orders, but permit the court to modify them at any time before the divorce is final. For example, if an automatic restraining order prohibits a spouse from leaving the state with the children without written permission from the other spouse, the court could modify that order to allow the child to leave the state in a situation where one spouse could not be located to give written approval.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Typically, domestic violence restraining orders are separate from the divorce proceedings, and a spouse or partner can get a domestic violence restraining order whether or not she filed for divorce. Such orders might be necessary when one spouse has physically harmed the other spouse or child or has threatened to harm them. State laws vary, but courts often customize domestic violence restraining orders to meet each situation, including such terms as a distance the restrained spouse must maintain from the protected spouse.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Can You Relocate With a Child Before a Divorce in Georgia?


Related articles

How Does an Injunction in a Divorce Work?

The breakup of a marriage can involve a bundle of issues over and above the end of the marital relationship itself. Money, property and children all require some degree of attention from the judicial system in a contested case. In some situations, an injunction -- a court order that somehow restrains your activity -- can be a useful device.

Temporary Orders Vs. Permanent Orders in a Divorce

The divorce process can take a considerable time from beginning to end. Often, it’s impractical or even impossible for a couple to wait until the end of the road to decide issues such as custody and support. All states have a system in place to allow spouses to petition the court for temporary orders to maintain the status quo until their divorces are final. In legalese, these are “pendente lite” orders, which means “pending a final decree.”

Can One Spouse Take Marital Assets Out of the Home Before the Divorce in Florida?

Florida couples contemplating divorce often separate before the divorce is final, and they may want to split their assets at that time. However, before one spouse takes marital assets out of the home, he must be careful that he doesn't take too much or accidentally violate a court order.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What Is a Permanent Injuction in a Divorce?

Injunctions often serve an important role during and after the divorce process, particularly in cases of domestic ...

Can You Sell a House Before You Finalize a Divorce?

The marital home is often one of the most valuable assets to divide in divorce. When a couple no longer lives under the ...

Is a Divorce Decree a Conveyance of Property?

A divorce decree usually splits property between spouses in addition to addressing child support, custody and other ...

Can One Spouse Kick Another out of the House in a Divorce in Illinois?

Divorce forces spouses to divide their property. They may agree on how to divide smaller assets like furniture and ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED