Temporary Maintenance and Additional Expenses
When working alongside individuals in the process of an ongoing divorce, Mr. Darren M. Shapiro, Esq. does his best to provide a welcoming and friendly source of information in the midst of trying circumstances. After all, a divorce has a significant effect on a couple, and the dynamics that they have grown used to while living together. Not only does breaking up the marriage mean ending a powerful relationship, but it also means adjusting financial responsibilities from a situation in which two people shared the costs of a joint household, to one where both parties must pay for their own expenses. Even while the couple remains living in the same household, their emotional detachment from each other might mean that they fail to address the financial obligations that they have to each other, and that home.
Mr. Shapiro has worked alongside a variety of couples, and has found that the divorce process can have a profound transitional impact on those spouses - perhaps drawing attention to the fact that one spouse cannot afford certain expenses alone. Pendente lite maintenance awards are the legal order issued by the court in this situation, designed to help the lesser-monied individual pay for expenses until the divorce has been settled or decided by the judge. For example, the court may issue a Pendente lite award that asks the monied spouse to provide monthly payments to the non-monied spouse to help them pay certain bills. Pendente lite orders may also include orders about child custody, parenting time, attorney fees, and child support among other issues.
During his time working in divorce cases, Mr. Darren M. Shapiro has amassed a significant amount of knowledge about Pendente Lite awards. For example, he often reminds his clients that determining the amount to be awarded is a complex process - as although there is a formula for the courts to follow, there are reasons why the court may choose to deviate from that formula. Usually, because the guidelines provided for temporary maintenance, or Pendente lite support, are designed to cover all of the basic living expenses created by the non-monied spouse, courts are supposed to deviate from the award only under very specific circumstances enumerated under the statute. Usually, carrying costs will be included within the guideline amount for the formula dictated for Pendente Lite - this means that maintenance amounts will be used to pay for various monthly bills, including electricity and telephone bills, water, groceries, gas, rent, mortgage and even household repairs. In some cases, however, the court may decide that an alternative amount of support is appropriate, based on a careful evaluation of particular factors.
When a Pendente Lite motion is properly before the court for consideration, the New York Court will use part 236(B)(5-a) of Domestic Relations Law to calculate a presumptive temporary maintenance amount. Once that amount has been established, the court may then choose to deviate from that award, providing that an explanation, that is permissible under the law, can be given as to why such deviation was necessary. If a deviation is determined to be necessary, the Pendente lite amount that is ordered might end up as more, or less than the standard guideline amount. For example, the court might choose to alter the award based on the health and age of the spouses involved, or the needs of a party in regards to obtaining training for their career. The courts will also consider the present and future earning capacities of both parties, the existence of child support and the cost of caring for dependents, and the existence of a pre-divorce, or pre-marital joint household. What's more, the court may also give special attention to the availability and cost of medical insurance for both parties, tax requirements, damage to marital property, and even the standard of living that was established during the marriage.
Pendente lite is a relatively commonplace aspect of many divorce cases, which is why there are a number of ways for clients to access it if necessary. In some cases, spouses choose to arrange a voluntary agreement regarding the amount of temporary support that should be paid, and that agreement can be presented formally to a court so that it can be signed by the judge. As Mr. Darren Shapiro reminds his clients, it is advisable for a lawyer to review the agreement before it is signed to ensure the fairness of the conditions, as terms do become binding when signed by a judge. Alternatively, if spouses are unable to reach an agreement themselves, the court may choose to order a pendente lite award following the filing of a Pendente Lite motion. In this case, the filing party will need to produce documentation of their income and expenses, and the payor spouse will be able to present their side of the story in opposing papers.
The complicated nature of Pendente lite and the aspects of living that temporary maintenance should cover mean that it usually rests with the Supreme Court of New York to determine how much a spouse should be awarded. Simply put, courts have a certain amount of discretion to manage, though the current statute has attempted to make the guideline amounts more predictable. Because of this, it is crucial for parties to explain their cases to their lawyer as carefully as possible, so that our office, if we represent that party, might present their information to the court in a way that supports their best interests. However it is obtained, pendente lite maintenance is a significant part of the divorce procedure, and it can often set the tone for future decisions regarding support and maintenance. In fact, a pendente lite consideration might provide the groundwork for final support orders.
To learn more about the details of family and matrimonial law, or simply discuss the complications and considerations involved in pendente lite and temporary maintenance for living expenses, please schedule your appointment with Mr. Darren M. Shapiro. You can contact our office for friendly advice at any time through our online form, or contact us over the phone at: 516-333-6555.