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What is pendente lite spousal support?

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Spousal Support |

In many Virginia marriages, one spouse earns much more than the other. This poses tremendous problems for the financially disadvantaged spouse if the couple decides to divorce. They can make up some of the difference through property division and spousal support, but the divorce process can take months to complete. In the mean time, they need some sort of income just to survive, let alone to enjoy something close to the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage.

In this type of situation, pendente lite spousal support can be a life-saver. A temporary form of alimony, pendente lite is meant to provide income to a disadvantaged spouse during the divorce process. The obligation continues until the divorce is finalized, at which time it may be replaced by a longer-term spousal support order.

Temporary support amounts

When courts are deciding whether to award post-divorce spousal support, they consider a long list of factors, including the income and earning capacity of each spouse, the duration of the marriage and, in some cases, whether there was adultery in the marriage. Generally, the amount of the order depends on factors such as the standard of living during the marriage and the paying spouse’s ability to pay. These determinations are highly fact-specific, and the result of one case can look very different from the result of the next.

By contrast, pendente lite spousal support uses a formula. If the couple has minor children, the court measures 26% of the paying spouse’s monthly gross income and 58% of the receiving spouse’s income.(If the couple has no minor children together, the court measures 27% of the paying spouse’s income and 50% of the receiving spouse’s income.)  Generally speaking, the difference between these two figures is the pendente lite spousal support amount., The court can adjust the amount when necessary.

It’s common for divorcing spouses to agree on a pendente lite spousal support amount themselves rather than letting the court decide. However, the spouses’ determination should be in line with the formula.

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