The primary purpose of a temporary alimony award is to enable a supported spouse to maintain the same standard of living they had during the marriage. The premise behind temporary support is that spouses should not have to experience a dramatic change in financial circumstances just because the marriage ended.
A judge may award temporary alimony — known as pendente lite (“pending the litigation”) — at the beginning of a divorce action to maintain the marital lifestyle. This award can require the higher wage earner to pay more than 50% of pre-tax income to support the recipient. This is justified by the courts as a temporary order — however, in reality, it can last for years, depending on how long it takes for the divorce to become final.
There is more than one way to get temporary alimony, the most favorable being a negotiated agreement between divorcing spouses that determines which spouse will be responsible for paying some (or all) of the monthly expenses.
Once a fair and reasonable agreement is in place, the spouses will enter into a consent order that outlines the agreement. The consent order, which is prepared by the spouses’ attorneys and signed by a judge, is then entered by the court as the supported spouse’s pendente lite award. It will usually stay in force until the final divorce judgment is issued, when it is then replaced by the final support award.
Another way to obtain temporary support is to petition the court for pendente lite relief. This is usually the route taken if a spouse refuses to provide a sufficient amount of support for the other spouse.
With the help of your attorney, you will need to file information with the court that outlines the facts of your financial circumstances. The court will use this information to determine the amount of adequate financial support, weighing the financial ability of the paying spouse and the financial needs of the supported spouse. The court will also consider the standard of living that was established during the marriage.
Pendente lite support can be a critical part of a divorce proceeding, as it often lays the groundwork for the final support award. If you are in the process of filing for divorce, be sure you talk with your attorney about your rights when it comes to temporary support.
When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of an experienced family law attorney often prove crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter. Contact us today for your free consultation.