Filing for divorce can be a lengthy process in Virginia, even if the spouses agree to a no-fault divorce. Sometimes, divorce cases can drag on through the court system for years, but in many cases there are real issues that need to be resolved immediately while the case is going through the courts. Virginia law allows for a family law court to issue “pendente lite” orders to address immediate needs of custody, visitation, property, and other issues while a Virginia divorce is proceeding.
What Issues can be Resolved with Pendente Lite Orders?
The court has authority to issue pendente lite orders on a number of different issues that may arise during the litigation of a divorce case. Either spouse may make a motion for this type of temporary relief when the case is initially filed or at any time while the case is ongoing in the courts. Pendente lite orders are commonly used to address the following issues during a divorce;
- Temporary spousal support
- Temporary child support
- Awards temporary use of the marital home
- Requires one spouse to pay the bills on the marital home
- Temporary custody of minor children
- Visitation rights to minor children
- Awards attorneys’ fees to one spouse to allow them to continue the case
- Prevention of parties from harassing one another
- Prohibits spouses from selling or disposing of marital assets, and more.
Important Notes on Pendente Lite Orders
One important thing to remember with pendente lite orders in a Virginia divorce is that the hearing for a temporary order is not a full hearing. There may be limited presentation of evidence and the focus is only on the temporary needs of the family. It is not the proper venue to prove a larger outstanding issue with the divorce.
In addition, pendente lite orders are based on the resources currently available to each spouse until the hearing to finalize the divorce. It is important to remember that what is included in a temporary order may not be the final order for the divorce. For example, the visitation schedule set in the temporary order might be vastly different in the final parenting agreement. In addition, the amount of spousal support ordered in a pendente lite hearing could be drastically different or cut entirely in the final divorce decree.
Finally, it is important to remember that even though a pendente lite order is temporary, it is still an enforceable order by the court. Failure to adhere to a pendente lite order could have a significant effect on the final outcome of your divorce. If either spouse fails to comply with the terms of the temporary order, they could be found in contempt of court, ordered to pay fines, and could alter the final terms of the divorce decree.
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To learn more about pendente lite orders for your pending divorce in Virginia, contact us today.