When a couple first starts down the path toward separation and divorce, it can be a scary and uncertain time. There are many changes with regard to finances, living situations, as well as circumstances surrounding the support and care of children. In addition, there is often a gap in time between the filing of an initial divorce case and the final trial before a Judge. To address the uncertainty during this time, Virginia courts have the power to determine issues on a pendente lite basis, or “pending litigation.” In other words, the Court can make some temporary rulings to assist the parties while their case is pending.
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Temporary Custody Issues
The Virginia pendente lite statute permits a Court to make a temporary determination regarding custody and visitation. Not all Courts in Northern Virginia, however, will hear custody and visitation issues on a temporary basis absent an emergency. While there are a number of situations that can constitute an emergency, some include the circumstance where one parent is completely withholding the children from the other or where there is danger to a child.
Temporary Support Issues
On a temporary basis, Virginia Courts can order that one parent pay the other spousal or child support. In many Northern Virginia jurisdictions, temporary support is based on spousal and child support guidelines. Temporary support is intended to allow each party to support himself or herself, as well as the children, until a final support determination is made by the Court or agreed-upon by the couple.
Temporary Property Issues
On a temporary basis, there are only certain issues regarding property that a Court can address. For one, a Court can order that one spouse have exclusive use and possession of the family residence. This requires that the other spouse live elsewhere and refrain from entering the family residence while the case is pending.
In addition, the Court can order that each party preserve his or her estate, or the marital estate. While this may not involve a “freezing” of accounts through financial institutions, the purpose is that neither party spends or dissipates his or her assets while the divorce case is pending so that any such assets are preserved for property division at a final trial
Other Temporary Issues
There are a handful of other actions that a Virginia Court can take on a temporary basis pursuant to the applicable code section – § 20-103. These include temporary determinations regarding medical and dental insurance, life insurance, and attorney’s fees.
Discuss Your Pendente Lite Divorce Issues with a Trusted Attorney
The firm of Curran Moher Weis has successfully helped clients navigate the period when a divorce case is pending, and we are here to help you. Contact our experienced Fairfax divorce attorney today.