Every divorce comes with its share of issues which must be resolved. Property division, child support and alimony are common topics that will come up and must be dealt with. What many couples don’t realize, however, is that alimony can be an issue long before the divorce is finalized.
What is alimony pendente lite?
When most people think of alimony, they think of the money one spouse is ordered to pay the other after they are divorced. Alimony pendente lite, however, is spousal support which is ordered before the divorce is finalized. It is not given automatically – instead, it must be requested and the need for it must be demonstrated to the court’s satisfaction.
Consider a situation where one spouse makes significantly more money than the other. Perhaps one spouse has spent the years of the marriage as a stay-at-home parent. The couple then separates and the high-income spouse moves out of the house, while the stay-at-home parent remains with the children. They file for divorce but how will the stay-at-home spouse pay for anything?
Alimony pendente lite exists to maintain the marriage’s status quo while the divorce is pending. Without the earning spouse, the spouse in need of alimony pendente lite would not be able to afford such things as daily expenses, child care or even an attorney which may be necessary for the divorce.
When faced with a request for alimony pendente lite, the court considers not just the needs of the spouse requesting it but also the circumstances of the other spouse. The court will not order alimony pendente lite if, by doing so, it simply shifts the financial disadvantage from one spouse to the other. If alimony pendente lite is ordered, it must be reasonable under the circumstances and will end as soon as the divorce is finalized.