No two divorces are exactly alike. The basic legal issues may be the same from one divorce to the next but there is always variation in the details. Spousal support may be needed in one divorce but not in another. There is one type of spousal support with which you are likely not familiar.
Most people understand the basic concept of spousal support (alimony). It is a payment ordered by the court, following divorce, from one spouse to the other, for the maintenance of the spouse receiving it. Pendente lite is the Latin term for spousal support which is ordered long before the divorce is final – it means ‘pending litigation’.
Imagine a situation where a couple decides to divorce. One spouse has been the primary breadwinner for the family, bringing home most (or all) of the family’s income. Meanwhile, the other spouse has remained at home to raise the couple’s children. When they separate, the breadwinning spouse moves out of the house, taking their income with them.
How will the stay-at-home spouse continue to pay the mortgage or other bills necessary to keep them and the children afloat? If the divorce is contested, how will they be able to hire an attorney to represent their interests?
This is when alimony pendente lite come into play. It exists to provide for the financially disadvantaged spouse from the time when the divorce is filed until it is finalized. The court determines when it is necessary and how much will be required, based upon the particular circumstances of the couple. If alimony pendente lite is ordered, it will automatically end once the final divorce decree is issued – and replaced with post-divorce alimony, when necessary.