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What is the "Automatic Restraining Order"?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed February 2022

When you file a divorce case or a separate support case, the clerk gives you an official court paper, an order called "Automatic Restraining Order."

This kind of restraining order is not about domestic violence.  It is about money and property.  It is signed by the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court. It says you can only use your money and property to pay for reasonable living expenses. You cannot hide or move your money or property. You must follow this order until you get another order from the court about using your money and property.

When you serve the court papers on the defendant you serve the Automatic Restraining Order at the same time.  Once you have served the Automatic Restraining Order it will also apply to the defendant.  That means that the defendant cannot hide or transfer their money or property either, but they can use their money and property for "reasonable living expenses" until they get another order from the court about using their money and property.

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