What is Alimony Pendente Lite?

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Divorce can be a very difficult time.  Many people experience emotional burdens, physical reactions to stress, and financial concerns related to the cost of a divorce and the impending lifestyle change.  One aspect of divorce that you might not be familiar with is a motion called Alimony Pendente Lite (APL).  As your divorce proceedings begin, you should familiarize yourself with this motion, in order to see if it is something that will involve you and your spouse.

Alimony Pendente Lite is a temporary financial support arrangement, or sometimes a court order, from one spouse to another, which occurs throughout divorce proceedings of the couple.  “Pendente lite” actually means “pending the litigation.”  APL should not be confused with regular alimony, because APL is strictly a short-term solution. 

What is the Purpose of Alimony Pendente Lite?

The main purpose of Alimony Pendente Lite is to provide the spouse who has more limited financial resources with a more balanced monetary flow, in order to complete a successful divorce.  Experiencing a divorce is not a pleasant time; however, acquiring an Alimony Pendente Lite can help ease the financial burden—if you are the spouse who has less money. Essentially, Alimony Pendente Lite balances the monetary means between spouses involved in a divorce proceeding. 

Who is Eligible for Alimony Pendente Lite?

Alimony Pendente Lite varies from state-to-state, and some states are more lenient than others regarding Alimony Pendente Lite regulations.  Alimony Pendente Lite is usually part of the negotiations that are held at the beginning of the divorce proceedings.  Unlike regular alimony, Alimony Pendente Lite is not determined by the “bad behavior” of the paying spouse.  Hence, Alimony Pendente Lite is not guaranteed, simply because the paying spouse committed adultery or abandoned the spouse who is seeking it.

Alimony Pendente Lite is not always a guarantee for the spouse who has the lower income.  For example, in the state of New York, in order to qualify for Alimony Pendente Lite, your income must be less than two-thirds of what your spouse’s income is at the time of the divorce.

How Long Does Alimony Pendente Lite Last?

Alimony Pendente Lite lasts for the duration of the divorce proceedings.  Once the divorce is final, then the Alimony Pendente Lite will be terminated.  At this point, regular alimony will be decided upon by a judge if necessary.  Alimony Pendente Lite is basically only meant to help you with your finances while the divorce is in progress.

How Do You Ask for Alimony Pendente Lite?

Some states require that an Alimony Pendente Lite is requested at the time the divorce is filed.  It does not matter which spouse files for divorce first; a request for Alimony Pendente Lite just needs to be in the initial divorce paperwork for whichever spouse is seeking it.  Other states may let you seek an Alimony Pendente Lite once divorce proceedings have begun.  In those cases, the APL may be retroactive, back to the date the divorce was initially filed.

How is Alimony Pendente Lite Determined?

Alimony Pendente Lite is usually calculated by using a specific, preset formula.  The Alimony Pendente Lite amount is calculated so that it “balances” the financial means between the spouses, as they go through the motions of divorce.  The formula is usually based on a percentage of the difference between the monetary holdings and incomes of each spouse.  A judge generally does not have much decision-making power over the Alimony Pendente Lite amount, since a strict formula is usually followed.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, you can see that it may be beneficial for you to investigate the laws in your particular state regarding Alimony Pendente Lite.  Whether you become the payer or the payee, you would be wise to learn all you can about the expectations of Alimony Pendente Lite. 

It is highly recommended that you contact a local attorney that is well-versed with your states’ rules and regulations regarding Alimony Pendente Lite.  If you are the seeker of monetary support, then Alimony Pendente Lite may be just the motion you need to help ease some of your financial load throughout your divorce.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.