Our Portland Divorce Lawyer Explains the Financial Restraining Order

financial settlementOnce a spouse files for divorce and the other party is served with the legal paperwork, statutory restraining orders automatically come into effect. These restraining orders prevent either party from changing the couple’s financial status quo except for necessary living expenses. These restraining orders come into effect by operation of law, and parties cannot “opt out” of them without first filing a motion before the court to remove or modify them. Our Portland divorce attorney Ronald Allen Johnston guides his clients through this process and will advise them as to what they can and cannot do once the divorce has commenced.

Overview of the Financial Restraining Order Statute

The following is a summary of the financial restraining order statute. Our divorce laws in Oregon prevent either party in divorce from:

a)      Canceling, modifying, terminating or allowing to lapse policies for health insurance, homeowner or renter insurance or automobile insurance that one party maintains to provide coverage for the other party or a minor child of the parties, or any life insurance policy that names either of the parties or a minor child of the parties as a beneficiary.

b)      Changing beneficiaries or covered parties under any policy of health insurance, homeowner or renter insurance or automobile insurance that one party maintains to provide coverage for the other party or a minor child of the parties, or any life insurance policy.

c)      Transferring, encumbering, concealing or disposing of property except in the usual course of business or for necessities of life. This does not include attorney fees for the divorce, real estate and income taxes, mental health therapy expense for the parties or children, or necessary expenses for the safety and welfare of the child.

d)     Making extraordinary expenditures without providing written notice and an accounting of the extraordinary expenditures to the other party, except for necessary expenses for the safety and welfare of a party or a minor child of the parties.

Modifications and Consequences for Violating the Financial Restraining Order

If one spouse needs to make a transfer or payment when the automatic financial restraining order is in place, he or she must first petition the divorce court. If the other spouse agrees that the transaction is necessary, the court will likely approve of the payment. If the other spouse objects, there will be a hearing before the court to determine whether to lift the restraining order.

The court takes the statutory financial restraining order extremely seriously, as the restraining order works to protect both parties and children as the discovery process commences. If one spouse violates the financial restraining order, that spouse is subject contempt sanctions. Sanctions are fines or orders to pay the other’s attorney fees.

The financial restraining order is essential to prevent one party from obstructing or hindering the other’s rights to a fair property division. It does not apply to paternity cases or situations involving unmarried couples, grandparent visitation cases or petitions for modifications. When in doubt, it is always best to consult with a Portland divorce lawyer to ensure your actions do not violate any orders of court. Contact Ronald Allen Johnston to learn more about your rights and responsibilities under the financial restraining order in divorce.

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