Freezing Marital Assets in AL: Requesting a Financial Restraining Order
In an ideal world, when you find yourself in a divorce, you and your spouse would accurately disclose all marital and separate assets and negotiate a fair disposition. Unfortunately, the world is rarely ideal. In reality, parties to a divorce often do whatever they can to protect their finances in a divorce or even maliciously try to waste assets just to stop their exes from getting what they want. Divorces are complex and emotionally charged even among reasonable parties; when one spouse is controlling or vicious, it can become that much more challenging. If your spouse is trying to hide assets, empty bank accounts, destroy property, or otherwise prevent you from getting the distribution you are owed in the divorce, you might be able to protect your property by way of a financial restraining order.
What is a Financial Restraining Order?
Although most people typically think of a “restraining order” as an order preventing an abusive person from approaching an ex, “restraining order” refers more broadly to any order in which a court orders someone not to do something. In the context of a divorce, a financial restraining order can be used to prevent one or both spouses from taking certain actions outside the normal course of business. The court will review the couple’s financial history to determine what sort of conduct might be considered abnormal, and the order would be used to prevent that conduct from occurring.
Conduct common to divorces that is often considered manipulative, destructive, or otherwise outside the normal course of business includes:
- Emptying or closing bank accounts
- Large transfers of funds between accounts or to offshore accounts
- Hiding accounts or other assets
- Removing a spouse’s name from financial documents
- Changing beneficiaries on insurance policies
- Destruction of assets
- Large sales of assets or giving away assets
Even when a financial restraining order is issued, parties are generally allowed to use funds to retain legal counsel for the divorce and other matters, as well as to continue using funds for the normal course of business. The court does not “freeze” all financial activities, just unusual activity that might be harmful to the divorce proceeding. Parties who take unusual financial steps to hide or destroy assets after a restraining order has been issued may be subject to sanctions by the court. If a party needs to conduct “unusual” business for a legitimate reason, the party can request permission from the court to do so.
Requesting a Financial Restraining Order in Alabama
To obtain a financial restraining order in Alabama, you’ll need to demonstrate to the court that you have reason to suspect your ex of foul play. You and your attorney will file a motion for a restraining order based on the risk that your ex has performed and/or will perform unfair or manipulative financial behavior, such as hiding or destroying assets. Courts have significant discretion in determining whether to issue a restraining order. Your Alabama family law attorney can help you build a strong argument for the need for a financial restraining order so that you can protect your assets and your family in your Alabama divorce.