There’s no mistaking the fact that divorce is a legal process which can have profound implications for one’s future. While the steps you take at the outset of this journey should be driven this understanding and the strategic insight of proven lawyers who guide you toward positive resolutions, there also exists the need to evaluate your current situation, needs, and short-term objectives.
At a law firm comprised of attorneys with decades of experience handling matters of divorce and family law, our team at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC knows even the most amicable divorces entail considerable shakeups and disruption to life as it was once known. After all, divorcing spouses commonly part ways following the filing of a divorce petition and in preparation for their post-divorce life. While much of our work focuses on laying the foundation for the future, we also understand the importance of addressing immediate issues, including those which may require temporary orders.
Common Examples of Temporary Divorce Orders
Divorcing spouses who initiate the process of legally dissolving a marriage may have various concerns for which temporary orders, also referred to as “pendente lite” orders in Virginia and Maryland, may be necessary. This is especially true when new arrangements need to be made as the divorce process unfolds.
Whether negotiated out of court, agreed up mutually by both parties and approved by the court, or a matter requiring formal hearings to resolve disputes, temporary orders help address new circumstances, preserve the status quo, and maintain stability until final resolutions can be made.
Common examples of issues temporary orders can address include:
- Temporary Spousal Support – Most people tend to associate spousal support, also known as alimony, with the payment one former spouse makes to the other following a divorce. While this can certainly be an arrangement reached after the finalization of a divorce case, there are also situations which may warrant temporary spousal support during the divorce process. This is especially true when one spouse may require financial support to make ends meet (i.e. pay rent on a new living space), uphold existing financial obligations that had been met during the marriage (i.e. utilities, debt, etc.), and preserve a standard of living similar to what was enjoyed during the marriage. Temporary spousal support can be negotiated and agreed upon by divorcing spouses (as part of a separation agreement or some other contract), or may require the filing or a temporary or “pendente lite” motion. Proving one’s need for temporary spousal support, or disputing an amount, will require evidence and arguments regarding spouses’ financial situation and their current arrangements, as well as other factors like income, community and separate property, whether there are children involved, education, training, and employability, and more. Although courts can use formulas to calculate temporary spousal support, these formulas can vary by jurisdiction and there is room for discretion and exception. When temporary spousal support is awarded or approved by the court, it will remain in effect until the case is finalized.
- Temporary Child Custody / Visitation – Divorcing spouses with minor children have the ability to work our arrangements involving where children will live while the divorce unfolds. If communication and compromise are not possible, or not appropriate given particular issues (such as domestic violence), courts can issue pendente lite decisions regarding child custody and visitation during the divorce process. When determining temporary custody and time-sharing arrangements, courts always prioritize the best interests of the children, and arrangements that are consistent with the child’s current situation (when in their best interests) and as minimally disruptive as possible.
- Temporary Child Support – Just as spouses may require temporary spousal support as they navigate the divorce process, custodial parents may also require temporary child support until the time a case becomes final. Courts have the ability to issue temporary orders to address this issue. In Fairfax County, temporary child support is calculated using the same formula used to calculate final support orders.
- The Family Home – There are some divorces where courts can intervene and issue orders that provide one spouse with temporary possession and exclusive use of the family home, or any marital residence shared by spouses during the marriage, until the finalization of a case. This is typically sought in cases of domestic violence, which would require the spouse seeking exclusive use and possession to prove a reasonable fear of harm.
- Preserving Marital Assets – Property division is a significant aspect of divorce cases, and there may be situations where it becomes necessary to preserve the marital estate for the purposes of equitable distribution while a divorce is pending. Such temporary orders may require continued payment of a mortgage, restrictions on the access or sale of assets, and other similar actions. In some cases, courts may also order the use of marital funds for payment of preliminary attorney’s fees and continued health insurance coverage.
Temporary / pendente lite relief is available during the divorce process, but navigating the process, effectively negotiating or filing motions, and reaching workable resolutions are matters that can vary in complexity from case to case, and from court to court. For these reasons, it becomes important to work with experienced legal representation to protect your rights and interests when it comes to your immediate needs during a divorce. It should also be mentioned that temporary orders are not indicative of final resolutions, which means spouses should still prioritize the value of working with skilled attorneys who can help them resolve their various divorce-related issues in a final divorce agreement.
Call (888) 530-4374 to Speak with a Proven Divorce Lawyer
DiPietro Law Group, PLLC has cultivated a reputation for passionate and insight-driven representation in a range of matters involving divorce and family law. If you have questions about temporary orders in your divorce case, or would like more information about how our award-winning team can help you through all aspects of your divorce, you can speak personally with an lawyer from our team. Call (888) 530-4374 or contact us online to request an initial consultation.