When you and your partner decide to get a divorce, understanding the legal complexities and terminology — including pendente lite — gets confusing. A divorce is already a stressful time for both husband and wife.
Learning a Latin phrase might be something you thought you left behind after high school. To make sure you understand what comes next for your divorce, this guide will break down everything you need to know about pendente lite orders.
What is a Pendente Lite Order?
Pendente lite is Latin and it literally translates to “pending the litigation.” In divorce proceedings, pendente lite orders provide an equitable status for both parties during the divorce litigation. This is a temporary order generally used to provide spousal support to the spouse earning a lower income. The pendente lite relief will end upon the conclusion of the divorce case.
A pendente lite should not be confused with a lis pendens. A lis pendens also means “pending litigation” but refers to real property, so do not confuse these two types of court orders.
In a divorce, one party may file a pendente lite motion to request spousal assistance during the divorce action. That is the most common reason to seek relief, but not the only. Other reasons include:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Maintaining health insurance
- Paying housing expenses
- Possession of marital home
- Possession of marital vehicles
Pendente lite requests are usually filed on behalf of the wife who is requesting financial help from the husband. While child custody and child support are common reasons for granting temporary aid orders, the judge could grant any legitimate reason.
What Can I Expect From a Pendente Lite Hearing?
When you file a pendente lite motion to maintain the status quo, the judge will need to review your marital lifestyle to determine if the court should grant your motion. Usually, this means you need to attend a hearing with your lawyer where you provide the judge with answers to their questions.
You need to prepare items before the pendente lite hearing so you can be ready to answer the judge’s questions. You will need to ensure you have information prepared on:
- Your marital home
- Any other marital real estate
- Your bank accounts
- Your job information and salary
- Your spouse’s job information and salary
- Vacation, entertainment, and household expenses
- Any gifts or inheritances you or your spouse have received during your marriage
The judge is conducting a lifestyle analysis of your marriage. If you are requesting pendente lite relief because your husband or wife makes money than you and you cannot support yourself during your divorce, you will need to show the judge why you deserve the assistance you request.
Whether you are the husband or the wife, it’s important to understand that fathers have rights in Virginia in divorces where child custody is an issue. You thus cannot simply request a temporary order for child custody and expect it to be granted without proving your reasons. Your lawyer is there to help you with this process and guide you through your pendente lite hearing.
Common Pendente Lite Questions
Divorce proceedings are emotional and confusing experiences, often involving complex divorce forms and financial disclosures. To help you better understand what you may face when you file a pendente lite, see below for some of the most common questions.
1. Will I automatically receive support?
No. Pendente lite support is only provided when you give the judge sufficient evidence that you need the support while your divorce is in progress.
2. Will the support end?
Yes, temporary orders will not last forever but, in most cases, if your pendente lite is granted, the order will last until the end of your divorce proceedings or until the judge grants a permanent support order.
3. What do I do if the pendente lite hearing was postponed?
Hearings routinely get delayed, but you could face financial hardship and be unable to pay your bills with a pendente lite support hearing postponement. If this is the case, work with your lawyer who can help you file an emergency motion for support.
4. What are my options if I receive a pendente lite order but my spouse does not pay?
Violations of court orders are serious offenses. If your spouse does not pay your pendente lite support as ordered by the judge, your lawyer will file a motion to immediately alert the judge who can compel your spouse to pay or face stiff penalties.
What To Avoid When Filing a Motion for Pendente Lite Relief
Now that you understand what to expect and prepare for when you file a Motion for pendente lite, you need to know what not to do. It’s important that you and your attorney make sure you avoid certain actions which could hurt your chances of having your motion granted.
Because the judge is looking at your marital lifestyle and determining whether your request for support is justified, you need to avoid making large purchases. Of course you need to keep your status quo and tend to your basic needs, but do not rush out and buy a new sports car or expensive jewelry.
You should avoid:
- Home renovations
- Taking on substantial debt
- Opening new bank accounts
- New relationships
- New jobs
- Denying access to your children
Finally, and especially if you have children, do not become overly combative or openly resentful of your spouse. Divorce is an emotional experience but by keeping your cool, you give yourself a better chance of receiving the pendente lite support you seek.
Seeking a Pendente Lite Order in Virginia?
The lawyer you choose to represent you can make a difference in your ability to achieve pendente lite aid. Choosing a law firm or legal advisor who is too aggressive can be off-putting to judges, but a compassionate divorce lawyer who understands the emotional experience you are going through can help to keep you calm and focused on the end goal. Pendente Lite Orders can be granted in any type of divorce case, including fault and no-fault divorce.
If you are contemplating or already taking steps to get a divorce, you need to speak with a trusted and experienced family law professional. When your marital situation is such that you require financial support, filing a request for pendente lite can be your best option.
Contact us today to speak with an experienced and respected lawyer about your pendente lite questions.