The divorce lawyers at my New Jersey law firm confront this issue on a frequent basis. First we explain that the term pendente lite is Latin for “pending the litigation.” In other words, it represents the period during which either the husband or wife authorized their attorney to file a Complaint for Divorce in the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey but the case not yet been finalized.
Under New Jersey divorce law, pendente lite dictates that the parties, to the very best of their abilities respectively, are to maintain the status quo of the marriage. Certain matters are simplistic in nature. An example is that neither spouse may alter or change any insurance policies that existed during the marriage absent the written consent of the other spouse. In fact, when filing a Complaint for Divorce in New Jersey (or filing a response to the Complaint) the spouse must attach a Certification of Insurance Coverage verifying that they have not, for at least the past three months, changed any medical, life, automobile or homeowners insurance policies related to the marital estate.
A much more complex aspect of the pendente lite stage of a divorce concerns finances. Some families “designate” certain bills for each respective spouse to pay each month. For example, the husband may be responsible for the mortgage payment while the wife is responsible for paying for the families’ monthly automobile lease or finance payments. However, many other families simply put both paychecks into one joint account and then pay their monthly bills accordingly. In this situation, the divorce attorneys and New Jersey Family Court judges must try to “reconstruct” the parties’ monthly budget so it is not only fair and equitable. Specifically, family law professionals strive to create a pendente lite financial arrangement that is similar to how the parties’ paid their bills (i.e., usually on a pro rata basis as per their respective incomes) throughout the marriage. While this is a daunting challenge, with the help of experienced divorce lawyers, most pendente lite court orders ensure that the bills are being paid and that both parties have disposable income to “live on” as well. Of course, if the parties were struggling financially while their family was intact, money will likely get tight during the divorce. Of course, in cases involving children, we strive to ensure that their best interests are protected as well.
So hypothetically let’s say the wife decided to place her career on the “back burner” so that she may be home with the minor children of the marriage. In turn, the husband is responsible to financially support the family. So if my law firm represents the wife in such a case, we will advise her that her husband must continue to pay the monthly marital bills and provide access to funds for disposable income for herself and the children.
If the husband fails to do so (and the respective divorce attorneys cannot reach an amicable resolution) we shall file a Notice of Motion for Pendente Lite Relief. Included in this application to the Family Court usually is a request for attorneys fees. First, we shall seek legal fees for being forced to file the Notice of Motion due to the husband’s bad faith for not maintaining the status quo, pendente lite. Second, we shall request money to help our client pay her legal fees so that the parties litigate their divorce on “equal footing.”
We may also seek a court order to “freeze” all assets and bank accounts until the divorce has been finalized (other than payment of monthly bills). Following you may please find a sample Notice of Motion for Pendente Lite Relief so you may get a better idea of the forgoing. Of course, if you or a loved one is facing a divorce and have concerns about paying your monthly expenses, please do not ever hesitate to contact my office.
LAW OFFICES OF EDWARD R. WEINSTEIN, L.L.C.
Weinstein Professional Building
214 Highway 18 North, Suite 2A
East Brunswick, New Jersey 08816
Attorney for Plaintiff, Jane Doe
| JANE DOE,
|SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEYMIDDLESEX COUNTY
CHANCERY DIVISION: FAMILY PART
DOCKET NO. FM-12345-20
NOTICE OF MOTION FOR PENDENTE LITE RELIEF
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE, that on Friday, _________, at 10:00 in the forenoon or as soon thereafter as counsel may be heard, the undersigned, Law Offices of Edward R. Weinstein, LLC (Elizabeth Rozin-Golinder appearing) attorneys for the Plaintiff, Ms. Jane Doe, shall move before the Honorable ________, J.S.C., Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Middlesex County, located at 120 New Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey, for an Order as follows:
- Compelling Defendant to pay unallocated support to Plaintiff in the amount of $______ per month, retroactive to _______, 2015;
- Compelling Defendant to pay $_____ in missed car payments;
- Compelling Defendant to pay $_____ for the balance of the PSE&G bill associated with the marital residence;
- Requiring Defendant to be solely responsible for medical and hospitalization insurance on behalf of the Plaintiff and unemancipated child of the marriage;
- Requiring Defendant to be solely responsible for all unreimbursed medical, dental, hospitalization, psychiatric and prescription drug expenses for Plaintiff and the unemancipated child of the marriage;
- Compelling Defendant to maintain Plaintiff as the sole and exclusive beneficiary of any and all life insurance coverage that he maintains either individually or through the course of his employment, to keep same in full force and effect during the pendency of this action and to provide proof of all insurance coverage currently in effect;
- Preventing Defendant from destroying, removing, concealing, encumbering, transferring, or otherwise harming or reducing the value of the property of one or both of the parties;
- Preventing Defendant from selling, transferring, assigning, mortgaging, encumbering, or in any other manner alienating any of the property of either party, whether personal or real, and whether separate or jointly held;
- Compelling Defendant (to continue) to maintain the status quo with regards to Schedule A and B expenses as listed in my Case Information Statement;
- Preventing Defendant from disposing, giving up or transferring possession of books, papers, documents or other materials concerning the Defendant and particularly his financial affairs;
- Compelling Defendant to pay the sum of $________ for counsel fees in connection with our divorce;
- Compelling Defendant to reimburse Plaintiff for counsel fees and costs incurred in connection with this motion.
- Awarding any such further relief as the Court deems equitable and just.
PLEASE TAKE FURTHER NOTICE that oral argument is hereby requested if timely opposition is filed;
PLEASE TAKE FURTHER NOTICE THAT a Notice to Litigants is attached hereto,
as required by R. 5:5-4(d), and that a proposed form of Order is submitted pursuant to R. 1:6-2.
LAW OFFICES OF EDWARD R. WEINSTEIN, LLC
Attorneys for Plaintiff, Ms. Jane Doe
By: EDWARD R. WEINSTEIN, ESQ.
NOTICE TO LITIGANTS
IF YOU WANT TO RESPOND TO THIS MOTION YOU MUST DO SO IN WRITING
This written response shall be by affidavit or certification. (Affidavits and certifications are documents filed with the court. In either document the person signing it swears to its truth and acknowledges that they are aware that they can be punished for not filing a true statement with the court. Affidavits are notarized and certifications are not.) If you would also like to submit your own separate requests in a motion to the judge you can do so by filing a cross-motion. Your response and/or cross-motion may ask for oral argument. That means you can ask to appear before the court to explain your position. However, you must submit a written response even if you request oral argument. Any papers you send to the court must be sent to the opposing side, either to the attorney if the opposing party is represented by one, or to the other party if they represent themselves.
The response and/or cross-motion must be submitted to the court by a certain date. All motions must be filed on the Tuesday 24 days before the return date. A response and/or cross motion must be filed fifteen days (Thursday) before the return date. Answers or responses to any opposing affidavits and cross-motions shall be served and filed not later than eight days (Thursday) before the return date. No other response is permitted without permission of the court. If you mail in your papers you must add three days to the above time periods.
Response to Motion papers sent to the Court are to be sent to the following: Clerk of the Superior Court, Family Part, Middlesex County Courthouse, 120 New Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901. Call the Family Part Division Manager at 732-123-4567 if you have any questions on how to file a Motion, Cross-Motion or any response papers. Please note that the Family Division Manager’s office cannot give you legal advice.
LAW OFFICES OF EDWARD R. WEINSTEIN, LLC
Attorneys for Plaintiff, Ms. Jane Doe
Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.