If you’re going through a divorce in New Jersey, you probably have a few questions about alimony (also referred to as "spousal support" or "maintenance"). The financial details of maintaining monthly living expenses can be overwhelming when you're making your way through a divorce. You may be wondering how you're going to support yourself during your divorce or whether you'll have to pay alimony.
“Pendente lite” support is a legal term used to describe temporary financial support provided to a spouse during a divorce proceeding in New Jersey. This article provides an overview of this specific type of alimony.
How is Pendente Lite Support Determined?
The lifestyle you and your spouse maintained during your marriage provides part of the foundation upon which a court will determine the appropriate level of temporary support.
The basic purpose of a temporary alimony award is to enable a supported spouse to cover living expenses during a divorce and maintain the same (or almost the same) standard of living that was established during the course of the marriage (also referred to as the “marital status quo” or “marital standard of living”). the premise is that pouses should not be required to endure a drastic change to their mode of living simply because their marriage ended.
How Does a Spouse Obtain a Pendente Lite Support Award?
There are several ways to obtain temporary support. The first is through an agreement with your spouse. Sometimes, divorcing couples can work out a temporary arrangement by deciding which spouse will be responsible for paying a portion, or all, of the monthly expenses.
If the agreed-upon support amount is fair and reasonable, spouses, with the aid of their attorneys, can enter into a “consent order” that outlines their agreement. A consent order is a document that sets forth the terms and conditions of the temporary support obligations and is executed by the attorneys and signed by a judge. Once entered by the court, the terms and conditions of the consent order become the supported spouse’s pendente lite award.
Temporary support will typically continue in place until the divorce is over. When the final divorce judgment is issued, the temporary order will be replaced by a new support order that sets forth the amount and duration of a longer-term support award.
For more information about the various types of alimony awards in New Jersey, see Understanding and Calculating Alimony in New Jersey, by Yan Wen Fei.
The second way to get temporary support is to go to court, and ask a judge for help. For example, if your spouse refuses to provide you with any financial support or provides an insufficient amount of support, you will have to file an application with the court, and ask for pendente lite relief. Pendente lite support awards are established through the submission of a document called a "Certification," which sets forth the factual circumstances of your financial lifestyle. The Certification is accompanied by a "Case Information Statement:" a document that outlines your respective incomes, assets, and monthly expenses. In deciding how much financial support is adequate, a court will consider the financial needs of the supported spouse, the means (financial ability) of the paying spouse, and the marital standard of living.
Contacting an Attorney for Help
Whether obtained through a mutual agreement or a court application, pendente lite support may be one of the most critical aspects of a divorce because it often sets the tone for your divorce proceeding, and in many cases, it lays the groundwork for the final support award. If you’re going through a divorce and need temporary support, it would be wise to contact an experienced attorney, who can assist you with your application and ensure that your rights are fully protected.