The Importance of Interim Orders in Divorce Cases
Divorce is one of the most impactful events a person can experience in their life. Not only does divorce split up spouses, but it often volleys minor children between two different households. Sometimes divorce can even separate siblings from each other. Such an abrupt upheaval of family life can interfere with a child’s ability to focus on school and can create challenges for a child’s normal emotional development.
Depending on the circumstances, divorce proceedings can last anywhere from a few months to several years. During that time, the parties usually live in separate residences, trying to move on with their separate lives. But, without special court intervention, the longer it takes for the parties to resolve their issues in divorce, the more at risk they place their future wellbeing of themselves and their children.
In cases where one spouse was responsible for virtually all of the family’s income while the other spouse focused their efforts on taking care of household responsibilities, the prospect of living alone while litigating their divorce seems impossible without an income. Fortunately, courts have the power to issue temporary orders pending the conclusion of divorce proceedings. Such orders are meant to preserve the status quo throughout the parties’ divorce to minimize the harm resulting from the disruption that divorce can bring to a family.
Interim Spousal Support—Alimony Pendente Lite
A party who was dependent on their spouse for financial support during the marriage may request the court to order temporary spousal support for the duration of divorce proceedings, also known as “alimony pendent lite”—Latin for “alimony pending litigation.”
Under Pennsylvania Statutes § 3702, courts “may allow a spouse reasonable alimony pendent lite, spousal support, and reasonable counsel fees and expenses. Reasonable counsel fees and expenses may be allowed pendente lite, and the court shall also have authority to direct that adequate health and hospitalization insurance coverage be maintained for the dependent spouse pendente lite.”
The provision of alimony pendent lite is designed to make sure a party with less income and wealth has close to an equal footing in litigation against their more wealthier and resourceful spouse. This helps balance the scales by preventing the more financially resourceful party from having an unfair advantage—such as hiring an attorney while their spouse is forced to represent themselves in court.
An award of interim spousal support is a temporary order that is eventually replaced by a final spousal support order upon the conclusion of divorce proceedings. Just like a final spousal support order, interim alimony is determined based on the parties respective income and expenses.
Interim Property Orders
Pennsylvania law gives courts the ability to order the parties in a divorce from buying, selling, or disposing of their property. Such orders are meant to prevent the parties from manipulating how the court evaluates their respective financial resources. Interim orders concerning the distribution of the parties’ property may also serve a similar purpose as alimony pendent lite when one party lacks substantially more resources than their spouse.
Furthermore, a court can order one party to have exclusive possession of the family residence during divorce proceedings. Allowing one party to live in the family home is particularly beneficial to a spouse with primary custody over their children pursuant to an interim order for child custody. By allowing the custodial parent to live at the family residence, the court mitigates the potential disruptive effect that the divorce would have on a child’s wellbeing.
Get Comprehensive Legal Representation from Scaringi Law
If you are facing a divorce, you should consult an experienced attorney from Scaringi Law. We will guide you through each aspect of your divorce to make sure you have an adequate understanding of the legal issues and the consequences of certain courses of action. We are committed to making sure you can make informed decisions about significant legal issues that can potentially affect the rest of your life.
Contact Scaringi Law online or call our office at (717) 775-7195 to schedule a free consultation today.