Pendente Lite Relief – Why wait until your divorce is finalized when you can address the issues now?

You and your spouse have made the difficult decision to get a divorce. You’ve been able to address certain aspects of your separation, but there are some issues on which you just cannot agree. Depending on what these issues are, there may be no need to wait for everything to be settled; you can get temporary relief for certain issues while you are waiting for your divorce to be finalized. There are often matters that need to be addressed promptly and cannot wait.

The Virginia legislature has recognized the importance of such relief. See Virginia Code Section 20-103. This code section provides you with an option to act now rather than wait for a final resolution to the divorce proceedings. Once a divorce has been filed, you may ask for a pendente lite hearing to enter a temporary order. Pendente lite is a Latin phrase which means “pending the litigation.” During this hearing, the judge has the authority to make various rulings and settle certain issues while the case is pending. For example, if you file for divorce and are seeking custody of your minor children while you are separated, but before the divorce is final, a pendent lite hearing may benefit you. The judge also has the authority to rule on other matters, including temporary child and spousal support, temporary custody of your minor children, and the temporary use and possession of the marital residence. A pendete lite hearing can also be used to ask the judge for an order prohibiting the dissipation of marital assets, an order requiring a spouse to pay joints debts, an order requiring a spouse to provide health insurance coverage, or a temporary award of attorney’s fees.

The purpose of a pendent lite hearing is to provide a party with protection during what can often be a very lengthy divorce process. If either party to a divorce proceeding chooses to disobey a Court Order while the case is pending, the Court may punish them for contempt. The final ruling may or may not be the same as the temporary order, but this process allows you to deal with the most pressing issues sooner rather than later.

If you have questions regarding divorce or custody please contact one of our experienced attorneys at 804-423-1382 or for assistance.