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Controlling a spouse’s financial actions can be a challenge

Couples who file for divorce may include an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO). While this sounds like it applies to physical or emotional abuse, an ATRO is a court order that prevents major shifts in parenting or financial circumstances.

Ostensibly, an ATRO puts limitation of frivolous or wasteful spending, which is called dissipation of assets. The reasons for this may be one spouse is angry with the other; they are spending it on a new lover; they are hiding money; they have addiction issues.

Because Colorado is a no-fault state, a spouse's actions may have no bearing on the divorce unless it is proven that a spouse squandered marital funds throughout the marriage. This can lead to an inequitable split of the assets to compensate for the wasted funds.

Hiding assets

A spouse may come up with a scheme to not share marital assets fairly and equitably. It may be done by:

  • Hiding cash or using cryptocurrency
  • Transferring assets to a friend or family member
  • Creating secret accounts
  • Deferring bonuses or payment for services

Although they rarely get away with it, these sorts of actions have a devastating impact on the family. It can also raise the divorce cost if forensic accountants and other experts are needed to track down the hidden assets.

ATRO may reduce the temptation

These orders are in place to provide financial stability during a time of transition. Both parties must swear that their financial statements are accurate. If they are later found to be untrue, the spouse can pursue a dissipation of assets. There also may be criminal consequences in extreme cases.

Legal representation can better hold them accountable

Family law attorneys studied law, but they also know how to read a balance sheet and flag any suspicious entries. This diligence helps hold the spouse accountable for their actions and ensure a fair and equitable division of all assets.

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