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In Tennessee, an automatic injunction is filed at the time the divorce complaint is filed with the Clerk of the Court. This injunction is required by T.C.A. Sec. 36-4-106(d)(1)-(7). The text of this statute is as follows:

(d) Upon the filing of a petition for divorce or legal separation, and upon personal service of the complaint and summons on the respondent or upon waiver and acceptance of service by the respondent, the following temporary injunctions shall be in effect against both parties until the final decree of divorce or order of legal separation is entered, the petition is dismissed, the parties reach agreement, or until the court modifies or dissolves the injunction, written notice of which shall be served with the complaint:

(1) (A) An injunction restraining and enjoining both parties from transferring, assigning, borrowing against, concealing or in any way dissipating or disposing, without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, of any marital property. Nothing herein is intended to preclude either of the parties from seeking broader injunctive relief from the court.

(B) Expenditures from current income to maintain the marital standard of living and the usual and ordinary costs of operating a business are not restricted by this injunction. Each party shall maintain records of all expenditures, copies of which shall be available to the other party upon request.

(2) An injunction restraining and enjoining both parties from voluntarily canceling, modifying, terminating, assigning, or allowing to lapse for nonpayment of premiums, any insurance policy, including, but not limited to, life, health, disability, homeowners, renters, and automobile, where such insurance policy provides coverage to either of the parties or the children, or that names either of the parties or the children as beneficiaries without the consent of the other party or an order of the court. �Modifying� includes any change in beneficiary status.

(3) An injunction restraining both parties from harassing, threatening, assaulting or abusing the other and from making disparaging remarks about the other to or in the presence of any children of the parties or to either party’s employer.

(4) An injunction restraining and enjoining both parties from hiding, destroying or spoiling, in whole or in part, any evidence electronically stored or on computer hard drives or other memory storage devices.

(5) An injunction restraining both parties from relocating any children of the parties outside the state of Tennessee, or more than one hundred (100) miles from the marital home, without the permission of the other party or an order of the court, except in the case of a removal based upon a well-founded fear of physical abuse against either the fleeing parent or the child. In such cases, upon request of the nonrelocating parent, the court will conduct an expedited hearing, by phone conference if appropriate, to determine the reasonableness of the relocation and to make such other orders as appropriate.

(6) The provisions of these injunctions shall be attached to the summons and the complaint and shall be served with the complaint. The injunctions shall become an order of the court upon fulfillment of the requirements of this subsection (d). However, nothing in this subsection (d) shall preclude either party from applying to the court for further temporary orders, an expanded temporary injunction, or modification or revocation of this temporary injunction.

(7) The temporary injunctions provided in this section shall only apply to the spousal parties named in the petition and shall not apply to any third party named in the petition; provided, however, that nothing in this subsection (d) shall preclude any party from applying to the court for an order of injunctive or extraordinary relief against any other party named in any petition as provided by law or rule.

This injunction applies to the person filing the Complaint upon filing and upon the other spouse, the Defendant, upon being served with the Summons, Complaint and Injunction.

Here is what you really need to know about this injunction if you are contemplating filing for a divorce or you are in the divorce process:

  • neither spouse may transfer, assign, borrow money against, conceal or in any way dissipate or dispose of marital assets. This means that you cannot sell, give away, borrow money using an asset as collateral, hide or reduce in any way the value of an asset pending the final decree of divorce. Of course, if the parties agree or the Court otherwise allows you, then this is not a violation. For example, Husband owns a boat free and clear. Wife sues him for divorce. After being served with the Complaint, Summons and the Injunction, Husband borrows money against the boat to pay his attorney. While this may make the attorney happy that he/she got paid, this is a violation of the automatic injunction subjecting Husband to punishment by the Court.
  • both spouses may continue to pay their normal bills and monthly expenses from in their normal course, including business expenses, without violating this Injunction. However, they must keep copies of all payments made and money spent and shall provide the other spouse with these copies upon request. This is as it sounds. You can keep paying your normal bills and expenses monthly from the usual source of funds. You may not, however, go out and buy new vehicles, furniture, electronics, etc.
  • neither spouse is allowed to cancel, modify, terminate, assign or allow to lapse for nonpayment of premiums, any policy of insurance, including life, health, disability, homeowners, renters or automobile coverage. Nor can either spouse change the beneficiary of any such policy.
  • neither party can harass, threaten, assault or abuse the other spouse, nor can they make disparaging (bad) comments about the other to, or in front of, their children or to the other spouse’s employer. Basically, don’t be bad mouthing the other spouse to your kids or bosses.
  • neither spouse can hide, destroy or ruin in any manner any evidence stored electronically on hard drives, thumb drives or other devices. No destroying of e-mails, documents or those naughty videos or pictures. (Otherwise, how could the Court get to see them?)
  • No moving outside of Tennessee with the children or more than 100 miles away from the marital home. In cases of abuse, the COurt can make an exception after a hearing or phone conference.
  • Either party can apply for more stringent injunctions or restraining orders if needed.
  • These provisions only apply to the parties to the divorce, Husband and Wife, and not to 3rd parties like boyfriends or girlfriends, or other family or friends.

The bottom line is that the Court and the legislature wants to preserve as much of the marital estate for later division either by agreement of the parties or by the Court ruling. The Court will have a wide range of punishment for offenders.

The Reeves Law Firm has extensive experience in representing people during the divorce process. We can guide you through the pitfalls discussed above and help you stay in the good favor of the Court. Please contact us if you are in need of representation in divorce.