Temporary Orders in a Divorce Action (Pendente Lite Relief)

After a divorce case is filed and the other spouse has been served with the divorce papers, there are restrictions that automatically go into place so that you and your spouse cannot transfer any of the marital property or harm the value of any physical property without the consent of the other spouse or the permission of the court while the divorce is ongoing. Although you are allowed to spend money for ordinary expenses needed for daily living and for attorney’s fees, you cannot do anything with property that will be divided up in the divorce.  For instance:

  • Neither of you can sell, transfer, hide, remove or take a loan against any property that may be marital property unless it is in the normal course of business. This includes real estate, personal property, cash accounts, stocks, mutual funds, bank accounts, cars and boats, individually or jointly held by you and/or your spouse.
  • Neither of you may dispose of, transfer, or borrow against, any retirement assets, except to the extent one or both of you is already receiving a payout from such assets.
  • Neither of you may incur unreasonable debts.
  • Neither of you may have the other or your children removed from any medical insurance, life insurance or auto insurance, and you must maintain the current level of such insurance.

There are also certain other issues that may get decided by the court while the divorce is ongoing.  These temporary decisions can relate to the physical protection of one spouse or of any children, maintenance, child support, child visitation and child custody, and for attorney’s fees and other fees. The court may also decide that one spouse should have temporary possession and exclusive access to the home, if you and your spouse are not already living separately. The court may make changes to these temporary orders during the proceeding if necessary/or when the divorce is finalized.  Violation of the temporary orders may result in court-ordered sanctions against you, including an award of attorney’s fees.

Legal Editor: Jody N. Gerber, January 2015 (updated February 2016)

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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