Cincinnati Family Law & Divorce Blog: What is a Divorce Restraining Order?

When a party files for divorce in most Ohio counties, the Court will automatically issue a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) that prohibits either spouse from taking certain actions while the case is pending in Court.  The Court issues these orders as a matter of course, without a specific request by the parties, to ensure that the status quo is not changed unilaterally by either spouse.


Temporary restraining orders can vary from county to county so it is imperative that you review the specific order issued by the Court where your case is pending.  Typically, these restraining orders include the following prohibitions: removing children from the county where they reside at the time of filing for purposes of establishing a residence, selling or otherwise disposing of property owned by the parties, changing or canceling insurance of any kind (life, health, car, etc.), withdrawing funds from any retirement or investment accounts,  or incurring debt in joint names.  Even with these specified prohibitions, the parties are able to continue using marital funds, so long as the use is consistent with the practices of the parties during the marriage.


In most counties the restraining order is issued against both spouses simultaneously.  It may be necessary to request additional restraining orders that are not included in the automatic orders issued by the Court.  In that case, it is necessary to file a motion and affidavit supporting the request.  Examples of this would be very specific to the case, such as a concern that a party would change school enrollment for a child, or purchase a new vehicle. The Court may be able to issue the orders without a hearing, However, some requests will require a hearing and the submission of evidence.


It is usually unlikely for a Court to order a temporary restraining which requires a party to move out of the residence.  You should review the Court’s local rules regarding exclusive use of a residence to determine your county’s procedures.  In Hamilton County, exclusive occupancy of a residence must be accomplished through other means, and is permitted only in extreme circumstances, such as a domestic violence.


The temporary restraining orders issued automatically in divorce actions should be distinguished from Civil Protection Orders and Temporary Protection Orders that are issued in the cases of domestic violence.  These orders are issued after a party alleges domestic violence and the Court determines that the order is necessary to prevent further abuse.  These orders if violated have criminal implications.  If a party violates a restraining order issued in a divorce proceeding, they can be held in contempt of court with penalties that include fines, the payment of the other parties’ attorney fees, and/or, a 30 day jail sentence.