The Automatic, Temporary Injunction in Divorce

As soon as a petition for divorce is filed and served, an automatic, temporary injunction goes into effect. The term “injunction” means and is defined as an order from a court that someone do something or refrain from doing something. The term “automatic” means that the parties do not need to ask the court for the injunction – it is automatically in place.


Because the automatic, temporary injunction goes into effect upon service on the opposing party, the timing of such service is important.

If you believe that your spouse is moving money around or engaging in the prohibited activities above, you may want to serve them as soon as possible. Although Griffiths Law recommends, and many clients do, agree to waive service, the time spent discussing a waiver of service can be time used by your spouse for nefarious financial activity.

While you are encouraging your spouse to waive service, the automatic injunction is not in effect because no service has occurred. If you believe that your spouse has or will quickly engage in tactics to move money around, we highly recommend serving them as quickly as possible.

In a divorce, the injunction is an order from the court prohibiting either party from doing certain things during the divorce. The purpose of the injunction is to maintain the status quo so that nothing substantial happens while the divorce is pending. The automatic injunction that goes into effect in every Colorado divorce case can be found under C.R.S. § 14-10-107(4)(b)(I). Under the order, the following automatic orders are in effect for all divorce cases:


  1. Neither party is allowed to transfer, encumber, conceal, or dispose of any marital property without the consent of the other party, except in the “usual course of business” or “for the necessities of life.”
  2. Neither party may disturb the peace or otherwise harass the other party.
  3. The children may not be taken out of the state for any reason without the agreement of the parties or court order.
  4. Generally, neither party can do anything to affect health, homeowners, renters, automobile, or life insurance policies that provide coverage to either of the parties or the minor children.

But Are There any Exceptions? (Yes)

Yes. The first rule has an exception built in for times when the spouse makes an extraordinary expenditure when the expenditure is in the “usual course of business” or “for the necessities of life.” 


The “Usual Course of Business”

Generally, the “usual course of business” exception applies to allow the spouses to spend money in the same or in a similar way as they used to. This is a very ambiguous concept as many clients spend their money is vastly different ways. For some, an expense of several thousand dollars could be outside the usual course of business whereas, for others, expenses in the tens of thousands of dollars could be fairly typical on a daily basis. In general, once a divorce begins, continue to spend money in the same manner as before the divorce and do not deviate from the status quo too much.


The “Necessities of Life”

The “necessities of life” exception relate to expenditures that are related to things that are necessary for the marital estate to continue. Things such as groceries, household expenses, and other similar items all fall into this category. However, additional expenses that are necessary may also include car payments and other bills.


When Does the Automatic, Temporary Injunction go Into Effect? (Upon Service)

The injunction goes into effect once the case is filed with the Court and the opposing party has been served. See C.R.S. § 14-10-107(4)(b)(I). For personal service, which is the most common way to serve someone, this means the date when the papers are delivered by the process server to the other spouse.