Alimony pendente lite, also known as temporary alimony, is a form of spousal support that is in place for a short duration of time until a couple’s divorce is finalized. Pendente lite literally means “during litigation,” and, as such, its name implies that the support payments you may receive from alimony pendente lite will only continue while divorce litigation is ongoing. This temporary form of alimony is meant to level the playing field before a more permanent alimony solution can be found, especially in cases where one spouse makes significantly more than the other spouse. Applying for alimony pendente lite is extremely common, but if you are doing so there are a few things about this form of support that you should keep in mind.
1. Rules vary by state
Your eligibility for alimony pendente lite will largely be determined by the state you are filing for divorce in. In some states , t is not enough that one spouse simply makes more than the other spouse. Instead, the spouse applying for alimony has to make under a certain threshold in order to be eligible. In New York, for example, you can only apply for pendente lite alimony if you make less than two thirds of what your spouse makes.
2. It’s not immediate
Simply applying for alimony pendente lite is no guarantee that you will get it right away. Rather, there will still need to be a hearing to determine how much the alimony payments should be. As such, it can take several months before you receive any temporary alimony payments at all. This delay is important to keep in mind, especially if you find it hard to support yourself. If you need immediate spousal support then you should talk to your attorney about what your options are.
3. Lack of judicial discretion
When determining permanent alimony, many judges, depending on the state, have a great deal of leeway in determining what the final support amount should be. In some states, for example, the behavior of the paying spouse may be taken into account so as to “punish” that behavior. In alimony pendente lite, however, judges have very little say on what final support payments will look like. Instead, judges are largely beholden to specific formulas that are used to calculate payments, which means that making sure your financial affidavits are correct is so important.
4. It may affect permanent alimony
A lot of people have questions about what effect alimony pendente lite has on permanent alimony. The answer is that it’s complicated. While pendente lite alimony typically is no guarantee of how much one should expect in terms of permanent alimony, it can affect alimony decisions in less than obvious ways. For example, if your former spouse pays his or her temporary alimony payments regularly and on time, that may suggest to a judge that he or she has the financial resources necessary to make permanent alimony payments.
Divorce can be costly, which is why alimony pendente lite is so important at making sure both spouses can pursue a fair settlement. As the above article shows, however, anybody applying for alimony pendente lite should be aware of what it is and what its limitations are.