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What’s the Law for Temporary Child Support or Pendente Lite Child Support?

When it comes to family law, certain things just can’t be put on hold, while each side awaits the outcome of a court proceeding. One of the primary things affected by a divorce is the care and support of a child. Recognizing that the children involved in a divorce and/or custody battle need to be cared for, as the legalities are determined, family courts have established rules for pendente lite child support.
What Does Pendente Lite Refer to in Family Law?
The literal translation for pendente lite is “while litigation is pending” and concerns a temporary motion to lend relief to one party in a proceeding. This is a typical motion in a divorce, because it can be used to request that the spouse with the better situation provide support for the other spouse, while the divorce is pending. This is beneficial, particularly in cases where one spouse maintained the household, while the other spouse provided the main source of income for the family. It may also apply in cases where one spouse earned significantly less money than the other spouse.
Once a pendente lite motion is granted, it will typically last throughout the duration of the court proceeding. For that reason, it’s important that the petition to request the pendente lite motion be very specific and accurate. If the petitioner doesn’t request adequate support in the original motion, it may be difficult, or impossible, to adjust the terms at a later date. Once granted, the petitioner may have to live with the terms until the proceeding is resolved.
In relation to child support, equal parenting time does not negate the legitimacy of a request for relief. Perhaps one parent earns less money than the other, but has equal physical custody time. In that case, a motion for pendente lite relief may be filed to request temporary child support, until the terms of the custody dispute are permanently settled.
While many states do not require that parties hire attorneys to pursue a pendente lite motion, it’s advisable in most circumstances. An experienced family law attorney can help the petitioner better understand his or her rights, including the types of support for which they may qualify. Additionally, the attorney may be able to draft a more compelling motion, which will sway the judge’s opinion toward granting the request.
What’s Involved in a Temporary Order for Child Support?
A temporary order of child support can be requested to aid one party in a custody hearing, until a final determination can be made. Once the case is settled, the temporary order is considered satisfied and the parties will then abide by the final determination of the court. In the meantime, the temporary order ensures that the well-being of any children involved will be established.
In setting up a temporary child support order, the welfare of the children is the primary concern for the court. For that reason, the court won’t select an arbitrary amount for support, but will take several factors under advisement in determining appropriate support. The judge will examine documents outlining each parent’s assets and income, the number of children, the ages of the children, and the temporary terms of custody. additionally, the judge will also look at the expenses of each child, which means examining the costs of special needs for each of the children.
A temporary order of child support is likely to cover the basics and little else. The judge may only consider costs pertaining to food, clothing, shelter, schooling, and medical costs. This differentiates a temporary order from a final custody agreement, which will also take luxury and entertainment into account, as well.
There are advantages to complying with a temporary order of child support for each parent. It helps them grow accustomed to a support payment schedule, because it will likely resemble the final custody agreement. For this reason, it’s important to notify the court of any changes in the children’s lives that may affect the cost of supporting them in the future. Once custody is finalized, it may be very difficult to have support terms adjusted.
Additionally, some temporary child support payments may qualify for tax breaks. It may depend on the terms set forth by the court and on the individual’s ability to make those payments on time.
Pendente lite motions, such as temporary child support, can help alleviate a tremendous financial burden for one party in a divorce or custody proceeding. It’s important to address this issue with your attorney in advance, so you can better prepare your request for relief. A pendente lite motion prepared by an experienced lawyer has a better chance to convince a judge of the need for relief, so seeking help is often the wisest choice. Under all circumstances, the welfare of children involved in the dispute is the court’s highest priority. For this reason, a request for temporary child support may be one of the least difficult things to achieve, during a stressful court proceeding.


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