“AUTOMATIC ORDERS” IN DIVORCE ACTIONS IN NASSAU & SUFFOLK COUNTY: THE BASICS
When one spouse commences a divorce in Nassau or Suffolk County Long Island, the act of that commencement triggers a number of things which impact how the action will proceed and how the parties to that action must conduct themselves during the case.
As part of the initial papers which are needed to file with the County Clerk in order to commence a divorce in Nassau and Suffolk County, a “Notice of Automatic Orders” must be included. These “automatic orders” are essentially restraining orders which, once the spouse who commences the action (the Plaintiff) files the action and once the other spouse is served the papers (the Defendant), binds both parties and prevents both of them from, for example;
- Terminating a spouse from existing health insurance coverage;
- Changing beneficiary designations on any life insurance policy, pensions, annuities or any other financial account;
- Raiding bank accounts or other financial accounts so as to impair the other party’s interest in those accounts;
- Transferring any property (both real property and personal property) to any third party;
- Incurring debt which would adversely affect the other party;
- All insurances which exist at the time of the commencement of the divorce must remain in full force and effect without any changes to coverages, covered persons and beneficiaries
However, parties are permitted to withdraw funds from bank accounts for “ordinary” expenses as is customary between the parties. They may also use credit cards for the same purposes and needs. They may use funds from bank accounts or use credit cards to pay their divorce attorneys.
The public policy behind the “Automatic Orders” is that the Court wants the pre-divorce “status quo” maintained from the beginning of the case and through the end of the case, whether the case ends by settlement or trial. This serves to preserve marital assets which shall be divided as a consequence of the divorce and also is intended to prevent one spouse from “pulling the financial rug” out from underneath the other spouse.
If the “Automatic Orders” are violated by either party, that party could be held in contempt of court and suffer fines and /or imprisonment by the Court. When the Automatic Orders became part of the Domestic Relations Law some years ago, the law was unsettled as to whether violation of those Orders could give rise to a finding of contempt of Court. The law is now clear; violating the Automatic Orders can lead to a finding of contempt of Court against the violating party. Accordingly, the Automatic Orders must be followed strictly by both parties to the divorce.
It is important to note that the Automatic Orders are a “one size fits all” restraining order. Therefore, if the parties themselves wish to modify the orders to better fit their particular needs, concerns, facts and circumstances, they may do so. Such modifications must be in writing and follow other rules.
To better understand how the “Automatic Orders” affect divorces in Nassau and Suffolk County New York and how your particular facts and circumstances could impact this important issue, you are invited to contact Robert B. Pollack, Esq., principal attorney of The Pollack Law Firm, P.C.
By Robert B. Pollack, Esq., principal attorney at The Pollack Law Firm, P.C. : Our firm is solely focused on divorce, separation and all phases of matrimonial law, family law and mediation
The Pollack Law Firm, P.C., serving clients in Nassau and Suffolk County, is always available to assist and represent parties in divorce and all other matrimonial and family law matters. Please call today to schedule a free consultation: (516) 938-3330.
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to provide only general information for entertainment purposes and should never be relied upon as legal advice. One should seek the assistance of experienced matrimonial counsel to assist in explaining the law, options and making important decisions in any divorce, matrimonial or any family law matter.