Temporary child support and temporary spousal support are sometimes necessary in a divorce in the interim period between the commencement of mediation or court proceedings and the resolution of the divorce action.
This period, known as pendente lite (pending the litigation), can sometimes last for months or even years, although it is invariably much shorter during mediation than through traditional litigation.
Mediation, Temporary Child Support, and Temporary Spousal Support
When a divorce necessitates protracted proceedings, temporary spousal support and/or temporary child support is often essential.
When parties have chosen to separate into two different residences, temporary child and spousal support can become critical to sustain the arrangement.
In mediation, we often decide on the terms of the interim period before separation takes place, or very quickly afterwards.
Support during these temporary periods is necessary, even in relatively quick mediations, because there is no agreement yet in place to govern support or finances, and the marital status quo may be untenable once the parties are living separately. Usually one party is unable to fully support his or her own household immediately upon separating. In addition, the process of splitting or even liquidating large assets like a house or other real estate, required for the spouses to live independently, can take months. Once the divorce is finalized, the property settlement agreement takes effect and governs all of the ongoing financial and custodial arrangements.
Working With Your Unique Situation Is Key To Mediation
Although the calculations give you a starting point and add regulation to something that is often quite malleable, every situation is unique. Mediation accounts for nuances that you and your spouse (not the attorneys or courts) are best suited to identify and address.
During mediation, we will look at what is required for the children and the less monied spouse, what’s possible, and what the payer can afford to pay. We do so while evaluating what is needed for each party and the family as a whole.
The goal is to determine what is necessary for both parties to live without undue anxiety and financial stress during this temporary period.
Part of pendente lite may be determining how joint assets are used, or frozen, and which accounts will be used to pay for shared and separate expenses. Both parties can feel some control and relief when interim agreements are reached. For example, it is not uncommon for the uncertainty of the transitional period to increase apprehension and distrust. One spouse might fear that the other will misspend or dissolve assets, take loans against pensions or other retirement accounts, or run up joint debt. By creating an agreement that governs this period, both parties can be more assured that transparency and communication will govern and a framework followed.
Do Not Relinquishing Your Rights Unknowingly
The court places a high value on upholding the status quo of the family, especially when children are involved. Mediation ensures that you don’t relinquish rights by unconsciously creating a new status quo.
In mediation, parties come together to determine new/temporary living arrangement (if necessary) in addition to temporary child and spousal support. Then they put these new arrangements in writing, stating explicitly that no rights are being waived, despite one party or another moving out of the marital home.
By moving out before establishing an agreement of this type, you can unintentionally impair your parenting and property rights.
Establishing, in writing, what temporary child support, temporary spousal support, temporary custody and parenting arrangements, and other dimensions of the pendente lite (interim) period look like can protect you while creating a final agreement.
How Temporary Spousal Support Works In New York
In New York, a specific calculation is used to determine temporary spousal support. This calculation, which was developed by the court, is not meant to be used to determine alimony; however, it can be a good starting point for many couples.
This calculation is meant to be limited to temporary spousal support as this award is made without performing the comprehensive analysis used for post-divorce spousal support. (New York has a new calculation for spousal support that works with an analysis of all other relevant factors.)
Temporary support can be one useful piece of data among many in determining future support. It can be useful, though not dispositive, to refer to in the future for determining what alimony may look like if financial circumstances remain similar after the divorce.
How Temporary Spousal Support Works In New Jersey
Unlike New York, New Jersey does not have a calculation to determine temporary spousal support; however, there are still methods we use to determine what temporary spousal support should look like during the pendente lite period.
Although this is not codified anywhere in law or statute, some common practices exist in New Jersey to determine temporary spousal support. In both mediation and cooperative divorce, we look at each of your monthly budgets and together decide what each of you needs and how to accomplish that.
If you think you’re going to need temporary child or spousal support, or you think you may have to provide such support, give us a call for a free consultation. We can help you determine what, if anything, you need to do next.
You’re not in this alone—we’re here to help.