When a divorce petition is filed in Texas, the Family Law Code, Section 6.501 provides for a temporary restraining order to be issued at the request of one party, or on the court’s own motion, which prevents the parties from taking any action that would harm or deplete the assets, interrupt the custody of the children or interfere with the occupation of the family residence.
The order does allow money to be spent for groceries and other essential items, including legal fees. A standing order lawyer may be necessary to protect your assets and access to your children in some cases.
Some counties have a Standing Order that applies to every case that automatically goes into effect at the same time the divorce petition is filed. In other counties, a request for specific orders must be filed with the petition.
Temporary Restraining Orders in Texas
The Temporary Restraining Order is valid for 14 days of the filing of the petition. One 14-day extension on the Temporary Restraining Order may be granted. A hearing on Temporary Orders and the Temporary Restraining Order is generally held within 30 days of the filing of the petition.
A family attorney experienced with protecting assets in a county without standing orders can help you file each order specifying the protection you desire during a divorce in Texas.
Which Houston Area Counties Have Standing Orders to Protect Assets & Children During Divorce?
The only county in the greater Houston area that has standing orders for protection during a divorce is Montgomery County. Harris County, Brazoria County, and Fort Bend County do not offer protection that standing orders provide, you will have to manually file a petition, motion, or restraining order with each court as explained below.
No Standing Orders in Harris County: Manually File For Protection in a Divorce
There is no Standing Order in Harris County. This means that, if you are going to file for a divorce and anticipate problems with your spouse taking the children, spending money out of spite, or hiding assets, you need to have an attorney file a restraining order.
A restraining order can be filed to help protect assets and stop frivolous spending aimed to exact revenge; prevent either spouse from hiding children, preventing visitation with other parent; removing kids from school or daycare; and other ill-motivated actions that arise during a divorce.
If you are going to file for a divorce in Harris County, then it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney experienced with filing a temporary restraining order to protect your custody rights, money, property, and place of residence. This document details the difference between a protective order, a temporary restraining order and in what circumstances you should file each.
No Standing Orders in Fort Bend County
There is no Standing Order in Fort Bend County either, but you can still maintain custody of your children, home, assets, and property if you file a temporary restraining order protecting each thing following a divorce filing. Fort Bend County Courts will schedule a hearing, and your attorney can argue your petitions. A judge will grant the temporary orders in most cases, which place restrictions on certain behaviors and property for both parties.
Montgomery County Standing Orders
The purpose of the Standing Order in Montgomery County is to protect the parties, their children, their money, property, residence, and their pets. Specifically, Montgomery County standing orders includes protection for the following:
- There shall be no disruption of the children during divorce proceedings. Children cannot be moved from their residence, withdrawn from school or taken out of the state unless both parents have given written consent.
- The children shall not be hidden nor their “peace” disrupted. The parents are ordered not to talk disparagingly about each other nor about each other’s family members to the children nor are the parents to discuss the divorce litigation with them.
- The family pets are to be taken care of properly and not harmed during the divorce.
Both parties are ordered to refrain from the following activities for the duration of the divorce suit:
- Causing, or threatening to cause, the other party or children any bodily harm.
- Talking disparagingly to the other party.
- Making late-night angry calls to the other party.
- Opening the other’s mail or doing anything to cause the mail to be diverted.
- Unlawfully recording or intercepting the other party’s electronic communications.
Preserving Family Assets and Property
Both parties are prohibited from behavior that would decrease, degrade, or disturb family life including:
- Doing anything to harm, destroy or sell any property or any document relevant to the property, whether real, personal or intangible.
- Making any withdrawal of funds from any account, including savings accounts or retirement funds, or spending any cash in any way that is not authorized by this order.
- Incurring new debt and limiting or canceling charge cards already in either party’s possession.
- Terminating any services, such as utilities, cable television, Internet services, housekeeping or lawn maintenance.
- Communicating with the other party’s employer except for a legitimate business purpose.
- Maintain personal and business records and refrain from: “concealing, destroying, disposing of, or altering” any records or documents relevant to any issue in the divorce process.
- If there is insurance, neither party is to change the beneficiary or withdraw any funds from the policy during the divorce. No policy can be canceled or altered and this includes health insurance, life insurance, homeowners or renters’ insurance and car insurance.
Specific acts are authorized in order for each party to carry on with the necessities of life:
- To conduct reasonable and necessary acts for the party’s occupation and business.
- To pay for reasonable legal fees and expenses related to the divorce action.
- To incur indebtedness or pay for reasonable and necessary living expenses such as for food, clothing, medical care, and transportation expenses.
A copy of the Standing Order will be attached to all copies of the petition and is effective when the original petition is filed. It will “continue in full force” until a subsequent court order is entered. If a protective order has been issued, or is issued in the future, the protective order is the order to be in force if it differs from this Standing Order.
Contact a Lawyer for Standing Orders in Houston
When you file for divorce in Harris County or Fort Bend County, your assets and access to children are not automatically protected by standing orders like they are in many other counties. You need an asset protection lawyer like Frank E. Mann who can help you preserve residence in your home, custody of and access to your children, protect your money and property, and invoke a temporary restraining order preventing your ex from engaging in behavior harmful to you and your family.