Automatic Restraining Orders

automatic restraining order in a massachusetts divorce


Automatic restraining orders are one of the first things that happens after filing for divorce in Massachusetts. These orders address financial issues between you and your spouse. It’s very important that you understand what these orders are all about, so you don’t get into trouble with the court. In this blog post, we’ll unravel the complexities surrounding these orders, providing you with a roadmap for navigating the Massachusetts divorce process.

The Initial Filing

The divorce process begins with the filing of the complaint, either through a joint petition or by one party in the case of a contested divorce. Generally, you or your spouse must have lived here for at least one year in order to satisfy the residency requirement. As the divorce action kicks off, the court automatically imposes what are known as automatic restraining orders. These orders, are in full force until the entry of a Final Judgment at the end of your case. They serve as a protective net around the involved parties’ assets and other financial concerns preventing any adverse actions that could impact the value of your marital estate.

What Do These Automatic Orders Cover?

The automatic restraining orders touch upon various aspects of the divorcing couple’s life, from financial matters to personal property and even the well-being of minor children. The court’s primary objective is to maintain the status quo during the divorce process, ensuring that neither party takes actions that could disadvantage the other.

Financial Safeguards - Marital Assets and Debts

One critical area covered by these orders involves financial assets and liabilities. The automatic restraining order prohibits both parties from transferring, encumbering, concealing, or otherwise disposing of any property, whether real estate, bank accounts, or personal property. This includes joint bank accounts, credit cards, and any other financial instruments held jointly.

Family Home and Real Property

For couples going through a divorce in Massachusetts, the marital residence is often a point of contention. The automatic restraining orders prevent either party from selling, transferring, or otherwise disposing of any real property, providing a measure of stability during this turbulent time.

Custody Matters - Minor Children

When minor children are involved, the automatic restraining orders play a crucial role in safeguarding their well-being. Neither party is allowed to remove the minor children from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, except with the written consent of the other party or by further order of the court. This ensures that custody matters are approached with the utmost care and consideration.

Financial Responsibilities -
Support and Living Expenses

Ensuring the financial well-being of both parties during the divorce proceedings is another focus of these orders. The automatic restraints prevent the parties from incurring further debts, except for reasonable living expenses, attorney’s fees, and other necessities related to the divorce case.

Legal Steps - Entry of a Final Judgment

As the divorce proceedings progress, the automatic restraining orders remain in effect until the entry of a final judgment of divorce. However, parties can also modify these orders by mutual agreement, providing a degree of flexibility while still maintaining the necessary legal safeguards.


In conclusion, while automatic restraining orders may seem like a maze, they serve a vital purpose in protecting both parties during the divorce process. Understanding these orders and their implications is essential for a smoother journey through the Massachusetts family court system. Remember, seeking legal advice and approaching the divorce process with diligence can make a significant difference in the outcome.

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