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Massachusetts Supplemental Probate and Family Court Rule 411: Automatic Restraining Order

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(a) The following automatic restraining order shall apply to both parties to a complaint for divorce or separate support. This automatic restraining order shall be effective with regard to the plaintiff upon the filing of the complaint by the plaintiff or the plaintiff's counsel and with regard to the defendant upon service of the summons and complaint or any other acceptance of service by the defendant.

After service of the complaint for divorce or separate support, on two (2) days notice to the other party or on such shorter notice as the court may prescribe, a party may appear without thereby submitting his person to the jurisdiction of the court, and move to modify or dissolve the automatic restraining order and in that event the court shall proceed to hear and determine such motion as expeditiously as the ends of justice require.

The following restraining order shall remain in effect during the pendency of the action, unless it is modified by agreement of the parties or by further order of the court.

(1) Neither party shall sell, transfer, encumber, conceal, assign, remove or in any way dispose of any property, real or personal, belonging to or acquired by, either party, except: (a) as required for reasonable expenses of living; (b) in the ordinary and usual course of business; (c) in the ordinary and usual course of investing; (d) for payment of reasonable attorney's fees and costs in connection with the action; (e) written agreement of both parties; or (f) by order of the court.

(2) Neither party shall incur any further debts that would burden the credit of the other party, including but not limited to further borrowing against any credit line secured by the marital residence or unreasonably using credit cards or cash advances against credit or bank cards.

(3) Neither party shall directly or indirectly change the beneficiary of any life insurance policy, pension or retirement plan, or pension or retirement investment account, except with the written consent of the other party or by order of the court.

(4) Neither party shall directly or indirectly cause the other party or the minor child(ren) to be removed from coverage under an existing insurance policy, including medical, dental, life, automobile, and disability insurance. The parties shall maintain all insurance coverage in full force and effect.

(b) The provisions of this automatic restraining order shall be issued over the signature of the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court Department and a copy thereof shall be served with every complaint to which it applies, except if personal service is not made as provided in Rule 4 and service is made by publication, said notice shall include a statement that an automatic restraining order has been issued pursuant to this rule. The provisions of this automatic restraining order need not be reprinted in said public notice.

(c) The automatic restraining order provided for under this rule is automatically vacated upon the entry of a judgment of divorce or separate support.

Effective January 1, 2000. December 14, 2011, effective January 2, 2012.

Reporter's Notes (2000): Rule 411 provides for the automatic issuance of a restraining order which is applicable to both Parties-to a complaint for divorce or separate support. The restraining order is effective with regard to the plaintiff upon the filing of the complaint by the plaintiff or the plaintiff's counsel and with regard to the defendant upon service. of the summons and complaint and any other acceptance of service by the defendant. Said restraining order remains in effect during the pendency of the action for divorce, unless it is modified by agreement of the parties or by further order of the court. The restraining order is automatically vacated upon the entry of judgment of divorce or separate support. A party may appear on two (2) days notice to the other party or such shorter notice as the court may prescribe and move to modify or dissolve the automatic restraining order. A copy of this automatic restraining order must be served with every complaint to which it applies, except where service is made by publication. In which case, a statement that an automatic restraining order has been issued will be included in said public notice.