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What is Pendente Lite?


If you are going through a divorce, you may hear the term pendente lite used in relation to your case. Pendente lite (Latin for awaiting the litigation) applies to motions for court orders, which would remain in effect temporarily. The intended purpose is to maintain your and your children’s pre-divorce living situation and standard of life while your divorce proceeds and until it is settled.

Temporary pre-trial motions

Your divorce attorney may file for one or multiple pendente lite motions before you go to court. The judge determines whether the requests provide for the reasonable needs of the spouse filing the motions and the financial capabilities of your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.  Based on statements of your net worth and other evidence supporting your need for these protections, the judge may address the following:

  • Child custody and visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Occupancy of the marital home
  • Protection orders
  • Coverage of attorney fees
  • Coverage of expert fees
  • Freezing marital assets
  • Status of life and health insurance coverage

Equitable distribution of your marital estate cannot be addressed in a pendent lite determination. Division of assets must await the outcome of your divorce case. However, granting of temporary orders on the issues above can provide you with considerable protection as your case progresses.

When going through a divorce, especially one involving complicated issues, significant marital assets, and likelihood of going through the court to resolves, you need an attorney who understands the system and how best to protect your rights from the outset. If you are in New York and unsure of how to protect the life to which you and your children are accustomed while your divorce is proceeding through the court, an experienced New York spousal support attorney can help.