Standing Orders and Temporary Restraining Orders
At the inception of a family law case, the Courts are immediately interested in taking steps to preserve the status quo and prohibit parties from taking certain actions that may cause harm to the parties’ estate, their children, or cause needless litigation and expense.
These Orders are known as “Temporary Restraining Orders” (“TRO”). The authority for TRO’s (Temporary Restraining Orders), are found in Chapter 6 and 105 of the Texas Family Code and you can see two detailed articles on the blogs portion of the website (click here to review these articles).
A Temporary Restraining Order is expressly for the purpose of preservation of property, the protection of a party, or the protection of a child who is the subject of the case and is specifically for the purpose of prohibiting a party from engaging a specific act.
At the inception of a case, TRO’s are presented “ex-parte”, meaning presented to a court without notifying the other party. As a result, a spouse or party to a divorce or custody suit is often surprised when served with the Original Petition, that a Court has already issued a “secret” Order in the case.
Bastrop County Standing Order for Cases Filed on or after May 13th, 2010 And Apply in Every Case, Whether A Party Requests It or Not
Because TRO’s historically were very routine at the inception of a case, attorneys in family law cases over time developed a set of “standard prohibitions” that were consistently presented to the Courts. And, because these by their nature were required to be presented “ex-parte” (i.e. without notice to the other spouse to be present), these requests consumed valuable court time for matters that were by and large very routine and standard.
As a result, in 2010 the judges that preside over family law matters in the Bastrop County Courts put into effect the “Bastrop County Standing Orders” which apply to all family law cases filed in Bastrop County effective immediately May 13th, 2010.
Prior to the adoption of the Bastrop County Standing Orders, attorneys were required to spend time and their client’s money obtaining this basic relief by appearing in front of the judge, asking the court to approve a TRO.
However, instead, the Bastrop County County Standing Order now effectively substitutes for that process and serves as a “standing” injunctive order, applying in every divorce and custody case that is filed in Bastrop County, whether a party requests the standing order or not.
Very Important Difference with Bastrop County Standing Orders from Other Counties
It is important to note that the Bastrop County Standing Order applies in every child custody matter, whether an original suit or a modification suit because in some counties the standing orders specifically do not apply to modifications of existing child custody orders such as Bastrop County.
Bastrop County Standing Orders Explained
These standing orders control many aspects of the parties finances, children, and property upon filing a case for divorce and/or Custody and it is very important, if not critical, for you to read and understand their terms and carefully review them with your attorney at the inception of your case. And, for the most part, these standing orders are self explanatory.
The first paragraph of the Bastrop County Standing Orders states as follows:
“No party to this lawsuit has requested this order. Rather, this order is a standing order of the Bastrop COunty Court at Law, 21st Judicial District, 335th Judicial District, and the 423rd Judicial District Courts of Bastrop County, Texas that applies in every divorce suit and every suit affecting the parent-child relationship filed in Bastrop County. [The courts] have adopted this order because the parties and their children should be protected and their property preserved while the lawsuit is pending before the Court.”
Standing Order Takes Effect Immediately Upon filing
Upon filing, a copy of the standing order is attached to the original petition for divorce or an original suit affecting the parent child relationship, as applicable, and takes effect immediately unless modified by the Court (or the parties by written agreement, signed, and filed with the Court).
Paragraph 7.2 of the Bastrop County Standing Order states as follows:
“This order is effective upon the filing of the original suit and shall remain in full force and effect as a temporary restraining order until further order of the Court. This entire order will terminate and will no longer be effective once the court signs a final order.”
Accordingly, it is important to know that the Order, as is, automatically becomes a “Temporary Injunction” after 14 days and thereafter remains in effect as a temporary order while the case is pending, unless a party files a request with the court and presents evidence why the standing order should be modified in some respect.
Provided, however, upon your case being concluded or the entire case is dismissed, the standing orders are no longer effective.
Effect of A Protective Order on Standing Order, Protective Order Prevails
However, in the event the court has previously entered a protective order at the time of the filing of the divorce and/or the original custody suit and the terms of the protective in some way conflicts with the terms of the standing order, section 8 provides that the terms of the protective order prevail.
Thus, upon being served with an original petition for divorce or custody that is combined with a protective order, it is very important to consult an experienced family law attorney to understand the terms of the orders.
Standing Order Sets Rules on Dealing with Spouse, Children, and Property
The standing order sets the rules with how spouses must deal with each other, their children, and their property. The standing order calls for the preservation of property, the preservation of business and personal records, and the continued maintenance of insurance coverage.
At heart, the idea is to essentially preserve the “status quo” of the parties and that of children and to provide the least amount of disruption possible, until the courts can hear the evidence, understand the circumstances of the parties and that of their children, and make a carefully determined decision based on the testimony of the parties and the circumstances.
The Bastrop County Standing Order contains primarily 7 sections, the most significant provisions of the standing order, are typically the following, meaning the parties are specifically prohibited from:
No Disruption of Children such as:
1.1. Removing the children from the State of Texas, acting directly or or in concert with others, without the written agreement of both parties or any order of this Court.
1.2 Disrupting or withdrawing the children from the school or day-care facility where the children are currently enrolled, without the written agreement of both parents or an order of this Court.
1.3 Hiding or secreting the children from the other parent or changing the children’s place of abode, without the agreement of both parents or an order of this Court;
Preservation of Property and Use of Funds During Divorce Case, the parties are ORDERED to refrain from doing the following acts:
3.1 Destroying, removing, concealing, encumbering, transferring or otherwise harming or reducing the value of the property of one or both of the parties.
3.2 Misrepresenting or refusing to disclose to the other party or the Court, on proper request, the existence, amount or location of any property of one or both spouses.
3.6 Incurring any indebtedness, other than legal expenses in connection with this case, unless the debt is specifically authorized by this order.
3.7 Making withdrawals from any checking or savings account in any financial institution for any purpose, except as specifically authorized by this order;
3.8 Spending any sum of cash in either party’s possession or subject to either party’s control for any purpose, except as specifically authorized by this order;
3.9 Withdrawing or borrowing in any manner for any purpose from any retirement, profit-sharing, pension, death or other employee benefit plan or employee savings plan or from any individual retirement account or Keogh account, except as specifically authorized by this order;
3.11 Taking any action to terminate or limit credit or charge cards the name of the other party.
3.14 Terminating or in any manner affecting the service of water, electricity, gas, telephone, cable television, or other contractual services such as pest control, landscaping, or yard maintenance at the other party’s residence …
Orders about Insurance in Divorce Cases
5.2 Changing or in any manner altering the beneficiary designation on any life insurance on the life of either party or the parties’ children;
5.3 Canceling, altering, or in any manner affecting any casualty, automobile, or health insurance policies insuring the parties’ property of persons including the pirates’ minor children.
Prohibitions in the Bastrop County Standing Orders Not Absolute
However, these prohibitions contained within the Bastrop County Standing Order are not absolute. This is a very common misunderstanding among parties who have just been served, believing they are absolutely prohibited from withdrawing funds or taking certain actions with their financial accounts, their children, or specifically in regard to their business or occupation.
If you are a party to a divorce matter, then you will need to go to section 6 of the Bastrop County Standing Order you will see a provision styled “Specific Authorizations In Divorce Case”.
In section 6, you will find the Court has authorized four specific exceptions within the standing order which the parties may, in a divorce matter, for which the parties may incur debt or spend marital funds:
6.1 To engage in acts reasonable and necessary to the conduct of that party’s usual business and occupation;
6.2 To make expenditures and incur indebtedness for reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses in connection with this suit.
6.3 To make expenditures and incur indebtedness for reasonable and necessary living expenses for food, clothing, shelter, transportation and medical care.
6.4 To make withdrawals from accounts in financial institutions only for the purposes authorized by this order.
Carefully Consult an Attorney
Actions taken in violation of the Standing Orders are potentially subject to contempt and a party can be sanctioned, potentially sentenced to county jail, and minimally required to pay attorneys fees.
Thus, while many of these provisions are self explanatory, it is very important that you carefully review the standing order with your attorney, ask questions, and become informed.
If you have minor children and the Standing Order applies to your particular case and you are changing schools, childcare, or moving to a different residence while a case is pending you need to very carefully consult with your attorney as the Courts take these actions in particular, as they relate to children, very seriously.
Obtaining a Copy of the Bastrop County Standing Order
All the issues dealt with in the Standing Order are part of the general rules and procedures for Bastrop County.
Click here to download a complete copy of Bastrop County Standing Order, or contact our office.