Many times at the beginning of a divorce or custody case one party may not be providing support payments such as child support or alimony to the other party. Also there may be an issues regarding access to minor children, or the cost associated with the litigation. In these events either party may ask the court for a Pendente Lite hearing, commonly referred to as a “PL” hearing.
What Is a Pendente Lite Hearing?
A pendente lite hearing is a hearing that is conducted while a divorce is still in litigation. The purpose of a pendente lite hearing is to provide temporary support before the final divorce decree has been issued.
At the time of the request, which can be done by written request or orally at a Scheduling Conference, the court may order a 1-3 hour hearing on the next available court date.
The hearing can take into consideration the following:
- Access (visitation)
- Child support
- Attorney’s fees and costs
At the hearing evidence will be presented and witnesses can be heard by the court. The purpose of a PL hearing is to “maintain the status quo”. Stated another way is to provide “some immediate stability pending a full evidentiary hearing” and to avoid “further unnecessary immediate disruption in the child’s life”.
Examples of "Status Quo" in Past Cases
Frase v. Barnhart, 379 Md100 (2004) and Miller v. Bosley, 113 Md. App. 381 (1997). Status quo is defined as “the last actual, peaceable, uncontested status which preceded the pending controversy” Magness v. Magness, 79 Md. App. 668 (1989). Child support will be determined by Maryland Statute at Maryland Code 12-204 and can be retroactively applied from the date of filing of the action. Alimony or support is an attempt again to place the requesting party in a financial status quo if possible. Many courts in Maryland will combine the child support and alimony together and refer to it an “undifferentiated support”.
To obtain a more complete understanding of what a PL order may mean to your case, please call the Law Office of Nicholas T. Exarhakis for a free telephone consultation.