What is the Statutory Injunction or Automatic Injunction?

2 February, 2012 by Lawrence in Uncategorized

We’ve all heard stories about divorces where someone got messed over because their spouse managed to hide all their income and assets.  The result being that one person walks away dirt poor while the other takes a nice vacation to Europe on the new yacht.  In order to stop some of this nonsense, any time a divorce is filed in Tennessee the court will automatically issue an injunction against both parties preventing them from performing certain acts.

Lawyers sometimes refer to this as the “statutory injunction” or “automatic injunction”, and it can help your lawyer and the court stop the opposing party from pulling tricks like selling the Rolls Royce to their brother for $10, cutting you off the health insurance, or badmouthing you to the kids.

The injunction takes effect immediately and a copy will be served on your spouse along with the complaint for divorce.  Specifically, the following acts are forbidden:

  • Transferring, selling, borrowing against, or otherwise moving or hiding any marital property.  This provision stops the parties from doing things like borrowing extra money against the house or taking title loans on the cars, giving large amounts of money to friends and family, closing joint bank accounts, or any act that would prevent the spouse from finding or utilizing money or property.  However, regular and normal expenses can be paid (mortgage, rent, utilities, etc).
  • Canceling, modifying, terminating, or failing to pay for any kind of insurance that benefits the spouse or the children.  This one is important because many people are tempted to pull some tacky move like cutting their spouse off of the health or car insurance, or changing the beneficiary on their life insurance.  Basically, whatever insurance is in place at the time the divorce is filed needs to stay in place until the divorce is final.
  • Threatening, harassing, assaulting, or otherwise abusing the other party.  This provision also forbids both parties from making disparaging remarks about the other spouse in front of the kids or either party’s employer.
  • Moving the children outside the state of Tennessee or more than 100 miles from the marital home without the permission of the other spouse or the court, unless there is a well-founded fear of abuse against the fleeing spouse or the children.
  • Hiding or destroying any evidence stored electronically on hard drives or other memory storage devices.

This is just a summary of the provisions, and the T.C.A. 36-4-106 contains more detail.  In addition to these provisions, if you can show the judge that your spouse transferred property or took action detrimental to you because he or she was planning on filing a divorce, the judge can order that these actions be undone (accounts reopened, insurance reinstated, etc.).  The statute also makes it clear that the parties can always ask the judge for additional injections if necessary.

If you have any questions about this or any aspect of your divorce, please feel free to contact me to find out how I can help you.