A major concern of the spouse who earns no income, or less income, than the other spouse
is how the bills are going to be paid and how s/he will be able to support him/herself and the children (if any) during the divorce action. If you are the party filing for divorce, requests for support (maintenance, child support, payment of carrying charges on the marital home, etc.) should be made from the outset in the Complaint used to commence the divorce action. However, doing so does not force the other party to begin the immediate payment of one’s day-to-day expenses.
If your spouse refuses to pay expenses and bills in the same manner as s/he did during the
marriage after a divorce action has been filed, your attorney will need to file what is called a
“Pendente Lite” application to the court. “Pendente Lite” essentially means relief that will continue during the pendency of the divorce action. This is a motion asking for a variety of different relief. Although the requests can be both financial and non-financial, this blog is limited to those financial requests for relief. Such requests may include the following:
Pursuant to Domestic Relations Law §240, directing the other spouse to pay child support for the parties’ unemancipated child(ren);
Pursuant to Domestic Relations Law §236, directing the other spouse to pay spousal support;
Pursuant to Domestic Relations Law §236(B) and §240, directing the other spouse to pay the expenses and carrying charges pertaining to the marital residence and any other marital real property, including, but not limited to, real estate taxes, monthly mortgage, homeowner’s insurance and umbrella policy premiums, utility bills for fuel oil/gas, electricity, telephone, mobile telephone, cable television, internet and water charges, cleaning service, plus the expenses for routine household maintenance and repairs, including but not limited to appliance service contracts and maintenance, gardening, landscaping and tree spraying, plumbing, electrician, exterminator and sprinkler system and other upkeep expenses for the premises;
Pursuant to Domestic Relations Law §236(B) and §240, directing the other spouse to pay automobile related expenses, including but not limited to insurance, fuel and necessary repairs for said vehicle;
Pursuant to Domestic Relations Law §236 and §240, directing the other spouse pay for the medical, hospitalization, dental, optical, pharmaceutical psychology/psychology coverage and unreimbursed expenses of the Plaintiff and the unemancipated children;
Pursuant to Domestic Relations Law §240(1-b), directing the other spouse to pay the unemancipated children’s educational, extra-curricular, and religious activities, including but not limited to tuition, tutors, expenses related to preparation for and standardized testing, religious instruction, music lessons, sports, and summer camp tuition.
Whether it is appropriate to request any of the above relief always depends on the facts and circumstances of the individual case. It should be noted that even if you have an income, you may still be entitled to maintenance (particularly where you earn far less than your spouse).
A pendente lite motion often sets the tone for the entire litigation, and so this motion should be prepared with as much detail as possible to give the court an accurate snapshot of the parties’ finances. Call our office to speak to an experienced matrimonial law attorney to plan for this important step in your divorce action.