When spouses decide to get a divorce, but that divorce is not yet finalized, the court can award what is known as pendente lite support. Pendente lite literally means pending litigation. This support is meant to maintain the needy spouse or any minor children throughout the course of litigation and until all matters related to a divorce have been finalized.
Examples of pendente lite relief include the following:
- An order compelling a spouse to pay any sums necessary to maintain a dependent spouse
- An order that one spouse be required to provide healthcare coverage to the other spouse
- An order requiring one spouse to provide the funds necessary for the other spouse to pursue the suit
- An order preventing either spouse from imposing any restraint on the personal liberty of the other spouse
- An order to provide for the custody and maintenance of any minor children
- An order establishing visitation rights
- An order requiring that one or both parties provide health care coverage, cash medical support, or both, for the children
- An order to provide child support pursuant to Virginia’s child support guidelines
- An order to support any child over age 18 if that child meets certain factors under Virginia law
- An order granting to one spouse the exclusive use and possession of the family residence throughout the course of litigation
- An order preserving the estate of either spouse
- An order excluding a family or household member from the family residence upon proper showing
Of course, the parties can also agree to similar terms on their own without court intervention. However, when parties to a divorce are unable to agree, the court does have the authority to enter any of the above forms of relief to a petitioning spouse. Pendente lite support received by a spouse has no bearing on that spouse’s right to support after dissolution, child support after dissolution, or any equitable distribution. Pendente lite relief is also available in cases other than divorce when custody or visitation of a child is sought.
An experienced family law attorney can help you determine if any form of pendente lite relief is appropriate for your particular situation and can assist you in obtaining it.