01 Jun A Guide to Pendente Lite in Florida Divorce Proceedings
They say that love is blind. While this statement is a bit ambiguous, it certainly seems to be true. Not only concerning physical appearance, but the ability to foresee how a relationship will survive in the long term. If you do find yourself in a divorce situation, the entire process can be long, expensive, and complicated. In this post, we will focus on a particular aspect of dissolution (divorce) proceedings known as pendente lite (pronounced lee-day).
If you and your spouse decide to end your marriage, the length of time it takes to absolve the marriage fully depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to: amount of assets, income disparity, child custody (if children are present), and willingness of both partners to agree to terms. Because this process can get messy at times, a divorce may take months or even years to complete. As a result, pendente lite can be initiated for the interim.
The term pendente lite is Latin for “pending litigation”. What this means is that there can be certain requirements imposed on either or both parties to maintain a status quo until the divorce has been finalized. Typically this is done when it comes to matters of money, in order to prevent one of the spouses from becoming financially destitute before the separation is final.
In the State of Florida, the statute regarding pendente lite (Florida Statute 61.071) reads as follows:
“Alimony Pendente Lite; suit money. In every proceeding for dissolution of the marriage, a party may claim alimony and suit money in the petition or by motion, and if the petition is well founded, a court shall allow a reasonable sum therefor. If a party in any proceeding for dissolution of marriage claims alimony or suit money in his or her answer or by motion, and the answer or motion is well-founded, the court shall allow a reasonable sum therefor.”
What this means is that if a spouse leaves the other before the divorce has been settled, either party may claim money from the other. For example, if a husband moves out of the house during the divorce proceedings, the wife may still need additional income to cover expenses. In cases where children are present, pendente lite is usually given due to the circumstance. As far as the amount of money owed or duration of payments, that is ultimately determined based on each case. However, the condition of pendente lite is that it is upheld until final litigation is agreed upon, thereby dissolving the need for it.
What this can mean is that if there is a significant discrepancy between incomes among spouses, the spouse with greater income is still financially responsible for the other until everything has been finalized. However, the court must consider the financial stability of the paying spouse in order to ensure that fulfilling the temporary alimony payments don’t result in a reverse disparity.
While pedente lite can be important in certain cases (“stay at home” moms or dads), to ensure financial stability and ability to afford counsel, pendente lite is not a guaranteed entitlement for either party.
In Florida family courts, certain factors are considered in the determination as to whether pedente lite should be awarded, including standard of living, duration of the marriage, and each spouse’s contribution to the marriage as a whole. Additionally, certain assumptions are made when it comes to the length of a marriage.
Again, pedente lite is not guaranteed in every dissolution. In order to strengthen your chance at obtaining this type of support, it’s best to find and consult with an experienced family law attorney. For a Free Consultation, give us a call at +1.786.309.8588.