One of the most common applications made in family court is for what is called pendente lite support. This support is supposed to maintain the “status quo” of the marriage while the parties participate in the divorce litigation and head toward either an amicable resolution of their case or a final decision by the Court via a trial. It is essentially supposed to “bridge the gap between the beginning and the end of a divorce proceeding.” Historically, Courts have predominantly considered the marital lifestyle and the needs of the supported spouse to maintain that status quo in determining pendente lite support.
A recent Ocean County Chancery Court decision, Malek v. Malek, (published August 23, 2016) is calling into question whether Courts are obligated to go beyond “marital lifestyle” and “status quo,” considerations in pendente lite applications under the new statute. The Court in Malek finds that the 2014 amendment to the alimony statute requires that Courts consider all of the statutory factors for alimony under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 (not just marital lifestyle and need) and to specifically to consider: (1) the practical impact of the parties’ need for separate residences and attendant increase in living expenses on both parties’ ability to maintain the marital standard of living; (2) that neither party has a greater entitlement to the standard of living of the marriage; (3) that no statutory factor carries more weight than any other factor; and (4) that the amount, nature and length of pendente lite support is to be considered in the final alimony award.
For more information regarding pendente lite support applications or any other family law issues, please contact Georgia Fraser, Esq. of Fraser Family Law Office LLC at 609-223-2099.