What is a “freezing order” and should I worry about it?


Why did I just get personally served with papers [at work/at my friend’s house/ at the gym]? What is a “freezing order” and should I worry about it?

Under California law, when one party initiates divorce proceedings by filing a petition for dissolution, the Court automatically issues orders to prevent either party from taking certain actions. These orders include a prohibition against parents removing children from the state without consent, from selling and transferring assets, from taking on certain debt, and other actions which might prejudice one spouse. The purpose of the orders is to maintain the “status quo” and prevent either party from taking certain unilateral actions. There are exceptions to the orders that you should discuss with qualified, family law counsel. These orders are sometimes referred to a “freezing” orders or “restraining orders.” You can find the text of these orders here. To understand how the orders are interpreted and for advice about how to comply with them and avoid liability, please give us a call.

The reason for a personal and public service of divorce papers can often be avoided with proper advice and prior planning. For the person filing for divorce, they are bound by the above orders at the time they submit their papers to the Court.  For the other party, these orders are not effective until they are served.  For this reason, some parties use the aggressive tactic of personally serving their partner to ensure that the orders prevent them from taking these actions.  Starting your divorce with a public service of papers can often be very upsetting and is very often unnecessary and avoidable.

Please call us if you have been served with divorce papers or have any questions about planning that can take place legally before the filing of divorce papers.


Author: Raquel L. Sefton