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New York Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders in Divorces

Last time, I described the concept of an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATROS) in a California divorce case as authorized under Section 2040 of the California Family Code. The idea of an ATROS is not unique to California, however. New York has it as well and that’s the subject of this blog post.

Before I begin, my usual disclaimer for New  York content applies: I have been licensed to practice law in New York since 2012, but I do not (as of the date of this post) maintain a physical office in New York state. Under Section 470 of the New York Judiciary Law, I therefore cannot practice law in the state of New York. This post is meant to simply go over a New York statute that is publicly-available for free to any member of the public. If you have a case in New York involving an ATROS, do feel free to get in touch in the event I can make a referral for you.

Anyway, that said, in my California ATROS post, I described how some marriages involve a disparity in earning power. One spouse might, for example, stay at home to raise the children while the other works a job to support the family. This can, in the event of divorce, sometimes result in a situation where the spouse who works tries to exercise an unfair advantage over the spouse who stayed home in retaliation by, for example, concealing marital property or cancelling the family’s health insurance. In California, the Section 2040 ATROS is intended to prevent this.

New York has a similar ATROS under New York Domestic Relations Law Section 236, Part B, Sections 2(b)(1) through 2(b)(5). These sections prohibit the parties to an NY divorce from doing things such as:

  • Transferring, concealing or disposing of any property owned by the parties individually or jointly, except in the usual course of business, for usual household expenses, or for attorney’s fees connected with the case (section 2(b)(1));
  • Withdrawing, encumbering, transferring, or otherwise accessing any retirement account without the consent of the other party (section 2(b)(2));
  • Incurring unreasonable debts, except in the usual course of business, for usual household expenses, or for attorney’s fees connected with the case (section 2(b)(3));
  • Cancelling or otherwise removing the other party or the children of the marriage from any health insurance, including medical, hospital, and dental insurance. Additionally, each party shall ensure that the other and the children of the marriage maintain their existing medical, hospital, and dental insurance (section 2(b)(4));
  • Changing the beneficiaries of any life insurance affecting the other party. Additionally, each party shall be responsible for maintaining the existing life, automobile, homeowners, and renter’s insurance policies that are in effect (section 2(b)(5));

As usual, I hope you found this post helpful. This post is largely my paraphrasing of the applicable law. You should refer to the actual wording of the statute(s) I have linked above in order to find out what precise criteria apply in your situation. If you do have a situation involving an ATROS in New York state, I recommend you find an attorney in your area with whom you can discuss the particulars of your case.

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Andy Chen

Andy I. Chen is a lawyer licensed to practice law in California and New York. Andy maintains offices in Los Altos, California and Modesto, California. Under the New York Court of Appeals' 2015 decision in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Andy does not accept cases from those in New York state. He does, however, know many lawyers in New York state and would be happy to make a referral.

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