The beginning of a divorce is obviously a time of immense change for everyone involved. Financially, physically, and emotionally, it is a time of upheaval. There are many stories about one spouse draining bank accounts or freezing credit cards in order to make the other spouse’s life as difficult as possible, or even in an attempt to keep the other spouse from hiring an attorney. There are tools to help prevent this that can start at the very beginning of a divorce case.
In Washington, unlike in many other states, there is not an automatic order that comes into place at the beginning of a divorce that keeps either spouse from liquidating assets or freezing accounts. Instead, either party can ask for the court to enter a type of restraining order. The term “restraining order” conjures images of preventing a spouse from returning home or seeing children, but that is not the type of restraining order that is implied here. Instead, this type of restraining order keeps either spouse from making specific types of financial changes.
In particular, these orders usually keep either spouse from draining bank accounts, cutting off cell phones, locking credit cards, or otherwise financially paralyzing the other party. Essentially, these types of orders often keep either party from making big changes. The order will also usually keep either party from gifting large quantities of cash or large assets. This is to prevent either spouse from being able to hide money by “gifting” it to a friend or family member to hold until the divorce is over.
In order to obtain this type of order, the requesting party will often file the order along with the initial divorce papers. The request will allege to the court that the failure to immediately grant this order may result in irreparable financial damage. If the court commissioner agrees, he or she will sign the order and set a hearing, at which time the spouses may argue that the order should be lifted or altered in some way.
Temporary motions may also be filed, but these are slightly different. Temporary motions ask for other temporary relief, such as temporary child support, spousal support, and/or parenting plan.
The beginning of a divorce is a complicated time, and it should not be made more complicated by one spouse trying to hide or liquidate assets. Call our team today. We have extensive experience with helping our clients with the difficult beginning of a divorce. Call today for an appointment at (253) 272-9459.