Motions may be filed while a divorce case is pending and courts have the authority to enter temporary orders, which stay in effect until the divorce is finalized. Pendente lite is simply a Latin term meaning "while the litigation is pending." Therefore, a pendente lite motion is often referred to as a temporary motion.
Common examples of pendente lite motions include:
Custody/Parenting Plan - establishes where the child will live, decision making and visitation;
Alimony - temporary spousal support;
Child Support - temporary support for a child which is payable to the custodial parent;
Counsel/Attorney fees - if assets are controlled by one spouse the other spouse may request that a specific amount be allocated for their legal expenses;
Motion for Exclusive Possession of Marital Residence - one spouse is permitted to temporaily live in the marital residence to the exclusion of the other spouse.
Pendente lite motions are not limited to the above; they may be tailored to address the specific issues in a particular case.
It is not necessary to file pendente lite motions in every case. The decision to file pendente lite motions should take into account the likelihood of success, the cost involved, alternatives to resolving the matter outside of court and the degree of imminency involved.
If pendente lite motions are filed, they are resolved either by stipulation (agreement) between the parties or by the judge after a trial like hearing. Since judges ordinarily do not wish to re-litigate issues, this distinction can be important when it comes time to enter the final divorce orders. Therefore, at the time of divorce, a judge is more likely to maintain the "status quo" when a pendente lite order was the result of previous and extensive court involvement.