If you and your spouse are having a difficult time coming to agreement on the terms of your divorce, that is, you’re going through a Contested divorce, it often takes a substantial amount of time to get things settled. But during this time life goes on and both parties need to work out, on a short-term basis, how to handle issues like “Who will live in the marital home?”; “Who will pay for all the monthly expenses?; “How will property be safeguarded so one spouse does not deplete marital assets? And perhaps most importantly, “How will custody of the children be handled?” These issues are resolved through a motion Pendente Lite, or PDL Motion.
Once the PDL Motion is filed, the other party must file an answer and the trial court will set the motion for a hearing. If the parties do not agree to a temporary order, the court will hold the hearing and each side may present evidence and testimony on the claims raised in the PDL Motion. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court will issue a Judgment PDL. Critically, a Judgment PDL is a final judgment, which means a party may appeal it, a party may move to modify it later, and a party may be held in contempt for failing to abide by its provisions.
PDL Motions are critically important and are meant as a temporary hold to keep the peace, a place of stability, without burdening one party too severely during a difficult transition period. Because the PDL will remain in place for potentially many months, you want to make sure the terms are as favorable as possible with regard to your interests and those of the children, which will require the skills of an experienced family law attorney. An unfair or one-sided PDL can cause financial havoc and establish poor custody habits that could influence the final outcome of the divorce.