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What you can't do during a divorce

The decision to get a divorce can often feel like a single, charged moment. It's likely been building for a while, but once you've finally made the decision, an entirely new chapter of your life begins. Even before proceedings have gotten underway, the divorce is real in your mind. It's tempting to embrace this feeling and change everything all at once, but the reality is that finalizing a divorce takes a while, typically six months in California. During that time, there are certain things you can't do, even though it may feel right to do them. You may be frustrated by these restrictions, but they're intended to protect all parties while negotiating the terms of the divorce.

Selling And Transferring Property

To prevent retaliation by either spouse, no one is allowed to sell or transfer property during the divorce process. This protects all marital assets until a judge determines their legal status. This applies to bank accounts as well. You can spend what you need to cover daily necessities, but you should consult your lawyer on any expenditures beyond that. Even if you have money that you believe is entirely yours -- an inheritance from before the marriage, say -- you should generally leave it alone until after finalization. Otherwise, you could be on the hook to reimburse your spouse down the road.

Out-Of-State Trips With Children

Once you've filed for divorce in California, an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO) goes into effect that prevents either parent from taking a child out of the state without legal permission, even for a vacation. While it may not seem like a big deal to take your child skiing in Lake Tahoe for the weekend, courts take this incredibly seriously. Violating the ATRO could jeopardize future custody arrangements. Don't do it. If you want to travel, talk to your lawyer first and decide how to proceed.

Insurance Changes

Simply put, you can't change your insurance during a divorce, which includes car insurance, life insurance and health insurance. Lapses in coverage can be incredibly costly if there's an incident, so courts want to ensure that everyone has coverage until they can make their own separate arrangements. What this means is that you may have to pay for your spouse's insurance for several months. This may feel unpleasant, but it's necessary and standard.

It's natural to want a clean break as soon as you've started the divorce process, but it's also important that the process be thorough and fair. This takes time. Maintaining a semblance of your former life for a few more months often feels strange, but it's preferable to compromising your future in the long term.

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