A common misconception of Arizona divorce is that Arizona family courts freeze assets at the outset of every divorce. This is not true, but the confusion is understandable.
Whenever an action for a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or annulment is filed, a “preliminary injunction” is automatically issued by the court which contains orders that both parties must follow while their case is ongoing. A preliminary injunction may appear as if it freezes assets, but this is not what the order does in actuality.
What Does a Preliminary Injunction Do?
A preliminary injunction prohibits each party from transferring, encumbering, mortgaging, liening, concealing, selling, or otherwise disposing of community property. Exceptions to this general prohibition are made for both parties’ “usual course of business,” for their necessities of life, or for reasonable attorneys’ fees unless the parties have agreed in writing, or the court so orders.
However, this does not mean your assets are actually “frozen.” If you want to ensure that certain funds cannot be accessed by you or your spouse, you must obtain a separate order specifying your wishes. If you are preparing to file for divorce, and you believe you might be cut off from the income stream of your spouse or otherwise be in need of funds, you may want to obtain funds for your use prior to actually filing the divorce action. If you proceed in this manner, the court can reallocate or otherwise account for those funds at a later date.
Preliminary injunctions are not solely concerned with a couple’s assets, however. There are additional reasons a court orders a preliminary injunction.
A Form of Protection
A preliminary injunction also orders the parties not to molest, harass, disturb the peace of, or commit an assault or battery on the other party or your children.
While such an order is not as specific as a formal Order of Protection, it does constitute an order upon which law enforcement officers can act. If you are concerned that your spouse will violate this portion of the preliminary injunction, you should keep a copy of the order available in the event you need to report inappropriate behavior by your spouse. You can also register a certified copy of the Injunction with the Sheriff in your jurisdiction. Then, in the event you are in a situation where you need to report a violation of this part of the Injunction, but do not have access to it, law enforcement officers can check with the area Sheriff to confirm that such an order exists.
Preventing Parents From Taking Children Outside the State
The preliminary injunction also prohibits you and your spouse from removing your children from the state of Arizona without either the other spouse’s written consent or the permission of the court. This prohibition applies to relocating the children, as well as to traveling outside the state during your divorce.
Finally, the preliminary injunction prohibits you and your spouse from removing your children or the other spouse from existing insurance coverage, requiring that both parties maintain all existing insurance coverage in full force and effect. This applies to all types of insurance coverage, including:
- Medical Insurance
- Dental Insurance
- Automobile Insurance
- Disability Insurance
- Life Insurance
Overall, preliminary injunction orders are intended to stabilize several key factors that can create volatile situations at the outset of your divorce. A violation of any portion of the order by your spouse should immediately be brought to the attention of the court.
Contact us at Hallier Stearns PLC for more information on how we can help you through the preliminary injunction process and any other aspect of your divorce.