A temporary restraining order (TRO) is a civil restraining order that is often issued with the original petition for divorce. A TRO will last as long as the state statute m andates, though the time period can be extended by the court. A typical TRO lasts about14 days, but it can range from 2 to 30 days depending on what the court orders. Keep in mind, some states will attach the TRO to the Summons of a Petition of Dissolution and will stay effective till the final divorce judgment is signed by the court. Additionally, a court may issue a TRO against you ex parte, which means you don’t have to be at the hearing to have a TRO issued against you.

What does a TRO do?

The main function of the TRO is to put a broad freeze on any assets that may be in control of one spouse or the other. This means the spouses cannot liquidate assets, close accounts, or acquire large amounts of debt that effects the community effects. The TRO also prevents either spouse from modifying beneficiaries on policies, like health insurance or life insurance. Finally, the TRO prevents one spouse from taking or hiding the children.

TRO Violations

Because a TRO is issued out of a civil court and not a criminal court, it does not have as many or as severe penalties attached to them in the event of a violation. If a spouse violates a TRO, they will be charged with contempt of court. The violating spouse will be afforded a hearing to dispute the alleged violation. However, if the court finds the defendant in violation of the TRO, the defendant will be punished accordingly. Usually, a TRO violation can be punished with a fine and up to a year in jail.

Fighting a TRO

A spouse is not allowed to file an appeal for a TRO that is issued against them. There are really only two remedies to available to the adverse spouse and that is modification or dissolution of the TRO or preliminary injunctions. If the party chooses to file a preliminary injunction, it is possible to stop the enforcement of the TRO. However, a preliminary injunction is appealable and it is possible for the preliminary injunction to be overturned in a higher court. The most effective course of action is to file for a modification or dissolution of the TRO. A dissolution may be obtained if the court failed to properly enforce the four-factor test in granting the TRO in the first place, such as if there was no irreparable harm shown.

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