“Standing Orders” are orders that are automatically in effect as soon as a divorce is filed. These orders are court orders and have all the force of law. Even though neither party requested them, and even if the opposing party has no knowledge that these orders exist, they are still valid court orders.
Although it may seem unusual or unfair for a person to be held in contempt when that person is not even aware of the court order, this situation is different. “Ignorance” is no excuse!
The things that the person is forbidden to do contain some “bad things” that should not be happening anyway. These actions have to do with physical harm, dishonesty, emotional harm, destruction and retaliation. In other words, a “laundry list” of “bad activitites”. For instance, hiding the children from the other parent, removing the child from the state, consuming alchohol within 24 hours of having the children, making negative and harmful remarks about the other parent to (or in the presence of) the children, becoming physically violent or destructive with spouse, children, animals, pets, relatives, and property, shredding documents, cancelling insurance, hiding property, forging the name of the spouse to a check, cancelling credit cards, withdrawing funds, and so on. These are the types of things that can get someone in huge legal trouble anytime, and even more so during a divorce.
Can the person be held in contempt or have some of these actions be “used against them” in court, even if they have never seen the standing order? You bet they can!
The above list does not contain everything that is in the standing orders. Also included are such things as: making withdrawals from checking or savings without authorization of the court or opposing party, entering the motor vehicle that is in the possession of the other party, making changes in withholding for federal income taxes, and spending money on anything other than food, clothing, transportation, medical care and legal expenses.
It is possible that someone could accidentally violate an order, if they had no idea that a divorce had been filed by their spouse (it does happen). However, common sense applies and all the circumstances will be considered.
The best course of behavior to follow is to NEVER do any of the things that are wrong, illegal, harmful or destructive under all circumstances (physical violence, hiding property, hurting any living thing or destroying property), whether or not there is a divorce pending. AND if you think that there MIGHT be a divorce pending, check further before you do anything “unusual” like making changes in insurance policies or bank accounts or spending money that isn’t a necessity.
A Texas family law attorney can help you find out whether a divorce case is on file, and can guide you with advice about how to handle bill paying, child visitation and daily life without violating Standing Court Orders and restraining orders. If you are getting a divorce it is important that you know about and understand any Standing Orders in Divorce cases that apply in your Texas County.