Divorce & The Status Quo

Divorce and the Status QuoYou or your spouse have decided to file for divorce. You may be one of the few who have remained amicable and can continue residing together throughout the pendency of your case. But what if one of you move out? What happens with all those bills you previously paid together? Before you file, or if your spouse has already filed, it’s important to know what, if any, rules your county has in place regarding these expenses.

Every jurisdiction has what are referred to as Administrative Orders, Standing Orders, or something similar. These Orders outline the rights and/or responsibilities of parties after case is filed and throughout the pendency of the case, until/unless your Judge issues an Order on that particular issue.

What do these Orders include that you need to be aware of? It may be that you and your spouse are required to maintain the financial status quo. But what does that mean? It means that you and your spouse must continue to pay all of the household and marital expenses that you have or had been paying prior to filing. If you have been paying the monthly payments for your spouse’s car, you must continue to do so. If your spouse has been paying the mortgage every month, they must continue to do so.

These Orders often prohibit spouses from doing such things as removing one another from insurance policies, utilities, and bank accounts. Your insurance renewal period comes up and your “employee only” plan is significantly cheaper than your “employee + spouse” plan and you’re thinking about saving yourself some money? Your spouse is a terrible driver and costs you a ton of money to have them on your insurance and you’re dying to remove them? Make sure you know what prohibitions are in your jurisdiction’s Orders before you do so.

What if you and your spouse have a joint bank account and you want to remove what you think is “your” money and open a new account (or transfer that money to another account solely in your name)? It’s almost certain your jurisdiction’s Order includes a provision that prevents either spouse from making marital funds inaccessible to the other. But you’re the sole income earner on a joint account? Sorry, those are marital funds. What about that rental property you purchased during your marriage and you want to sell it so you have money to move out? Sorry, it’s almost certain your jurisdiction has a provision against “depleting marital assets.”

Our family law attorneys are focused on efficiently and effectively preparing clients for the most difficult circumstances. The attorneys at HAWM law have experience dealing with an array of family law matters and can prepare the necessary and often unique strategy and tools that your family may require.

What if you have kids and one of you moves out? Can one of you prevent the other from spending time with them just because “well, there’s no custody order or order for visitation [timesharing, here in Florida].” Nope, it doesn’t matter that there’s no such order. Your jurisdiction’s Orders most likely contain a provision (if not an entire Order specifically addressing child-related matters) requiring you to continue to allow your kids substantial and meaningful contact your spouse.

What happens if you or your spouse stop making those payments, removes the other from that insurance policy, drains a joint account, sells that marital asset, or refuses to allow the other time with your kids? The offending spouse can be found in contempt; and starting off your case with an appearance for violating any Order is never a good way to meet your Judge for the first time. All of the provisions in one of these Orders are just as binding on you and your spouse as if your Judge specifically issued that Order themselves. Judges take these Orders very seriously, and they expect that you and your spouse will too. So, remember, before you file, or if your spouse has already filed for divorce, protect yourself by making sure you read your local Orders. Knowing what’s in them may save you from being called before your Judge for contempt or may protect you and give you a remedy if your spouse violates one of those provisions.

Have you or are you currently violating your local Order, but you have a good reason? Is your spouse violating your local Order unjustly? Call our office today for a consultation with one of our Family Law Attorneys.

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