In this series, we’ve been talking about the three most frequently asked questions that I get, and we’ll go on to discuss the four questions that you should be asking whenever you speak to a divorce attorney.
We are on question number three of our frequently most asked questions. That question is, what can I do to prevent my spouse from taking retaliatory actions against me throughout the divorce process?
In order to answer that question, I’m going to discuss one of the things that often happens when a divorce case gets filed. In Georgia, when a divorce gets filed, most jurisdictions have what are referred to as standing orders. A standing order is an order that arises by operation of law upon the filing of a certain type of case. Most often, those orders are issued directly from the judges in the county in which the case has been filed. The one I talked about the most is Gwinnett County.
For example. Gwinnett County has something called mutual restraining orders and in those mutual restraining orders, there are a number of different types of retaliatory actions that the order specifically prohibits. For example, it specifically states that neither spouse can sell or otherwise destroy any assets. It says that neither spouse can change or cancel insurance without first getting the court’s permission. It states that neither spouse can take any minor children outside of the jurisdiction of the court without first getting the court’s permission. These are some of the things that happen most frequently. Included in that list is also that people can’t cancel utilities which again happens all too often.
Now the important thing to understand about mutual restraining orders is an order is for all intents and purposes this legal obligation somebody has to follow but it appears as just a normal piece of paper and there’s not a piece of paper that’s going to prevent somebody from doing something if they actually are intent on doing it. However, because we have these standing orders, what that does is allow the court to use its contempt powers to address the situation.
The contempt powers of a court are very, very broad and usually come into play when somebody violates a court’s order. For example, if somebody violated one of these mutual restraining orders by say, cancelling somebody’s health insurance, the court would then be in the position to hold them in contempt and could use anyone of a number of options it has at it’s disposal to address the situation – including the levying of fines, attorney’s fees and even incarceration of the person who is offending the order. So while the order itself won’t necessarily stop somebody from taking retaliatory action through the contempt powers of the court, it will make them very unhappy about the decision they made to do that. These are the things that courts do in order to try and prevent retaliatory actions from happening.
At this point, you’ve reached the end of our third video in the series and we’re wrapping up our three most frequently asked questions. If you have any questions about your case, our contact information is below. Give me a call and we’ll set up a time to sit down and do your real case analysis.