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Questions You Want Answered > What is the Court Process? > What is a pendente lite hearing?

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“Pendente lite” is a Latin term which means “during the litigation.”  Its purpose is to make sure that both parties to the case have enough money to pay their basic expenses and some access to their children while the case is working its way through the court system.  In some cases, especially when one spouse has access to savings and the other does not, the court could order one spouse to contribute to the legal fees of the other at a pendente lite hearing. 

 

The only factors the court uses to order financial support for a spouse at this hearing are the recipient’s basic needs and the payor’s basic ability to pay.  Because of this, pendente lite spousal support tends to be higher than a final spousal support order, where the court applies 10 different factors to determine whether and how much spousal support should be awarded.  Conversely, as a pendente lite child access schedule is simply to ensure the children see both of their parents, a smaller award of time at a pendente lite hearing does not necessarily determine the final access schedule, as there too are 10-12 factors the court uses at the final hearing to determine an appropriate custodial arrangement.

You can help your client help you by beginning to pull together your last few years of tax returns and W-2’s, 6-12 months of pay stubs, as well as to compile a list of possible witnesses who can testify at the upcoming hearing  Please provide to your attorney the person's name, a way to contact them and a short summary of what they can testify.  Your attorney will need witnesses that can testify to how you are as a parent, how your spouse is as a parent, and to your income.  Before you put anyone on that list, call them and ask them if they will be willing to testify.  I know it is hard to believe, but many people do not want to be involved in your divorce, nor do they want to appear to take sides.  Although it is true that your attorney can compel them to come to court and testify by serving them with a subpoena, do you really want to call someone as a witness on your behalf who does not want to be there?  That person will not come across well as a witness for you.

Last updated on September 5, 2013 by Karen Robbins, Attorney at Law