What Is the Law About Giving Money to the Partner While Divorcing?
By Angie Gambone
Updated April 01, 2020
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During a divorce, it is not uncommon for your spouse to need money to support herself and the children or to pay bills. You can choose to voluntarily give money to your spouse during this time as long as the two of you can work out an agreement. If you cannot, your attorneys or a mediator can assist you in doing so. Finally, if you refuse to pay your spouse any money during a divorce, she can file what is called a pendente lite motion with the court and a judge may require you to pay her a certain amount of money each month, if approved.
If you and your spouse are getting along well during the divorce process, you can make a private agreement regarding money to be paid until the divorce is finalized. It is always advisable to put this agreement in writing even if you reach it privately. Private agreements work best for parties that trust one another and have open and honest lines of communication. Also, these agreements work well when the parties share a joint bank account and agree both may continue using funds from that account. This promotes transparency and enables both parties to maintain control over the family finances.
If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement on your own, you may utilize the assistance of a neutral third party, such as a mediator. You may also use your attorneys. Together these professionals will help you draft an agreement called a consent order. The order gets signed by you and your spouse and sent to the court for a judge's signature, upon approval. This agreement then becomes binding and will remain in effect until it is superseded by your final divorce agreement. Consent orders are good for couples who may not completely trust one another with the family finances because the judge's signature makes these agreements easier to enforce if one party defaults.
Pendente Lite Motions
If you refuse to pay your spouse any money during your divorce, he can file a motion with the court called a pendente lite motion. Pendente lite simply means temporary, because these motions deal with issues that only exist while your divorce is pending. In his motion paperwork, your spouse would explain to the judge why he needs money and provide a listing of his income, assets and debts. The judge would then make a decision as to how much temporary support is necessary and issue a court order requiring you to pay your spouse at regular intervals, such as weekly or monthly.
Child Support During a Divorce
Sometimes couples separate during a divorce and live in different homes. They usually will set up a visitation schedule, known as parenting time in some states, during this time. It is often the case that the custodial parent will need money to support the children even if she does not have any other significant expenses, such as a mortgage or rent. Although you can reach a private agreement as to child support, it is important to know that a custodial parent always has a right to ask the court to enter a child support award based on state law. Child support is considered a child's right and therefore parents are generally not permitted to bargain for an unreasonably low amount or no child support at all. Because of this, it is recommended that you determine the appropriate amount of child support based on your state's child support guidelines and start paying this amount to the custodial parent during the divorce proceedings.
Living in the Same Home
Sometimes couples choose to remain in the same home during the divorce process. This may be because the family income is not sufficient to support two separate households or because neither party has any other place to live. If this is the case, it is uncommon for a judge to require one party to pay a large amount of money to the other party. Instead, the judge will likely require one party to continue paying the family bills, such as the mortgage and utilities. However, keep in mind that if your spouse has no income or a very low income and no access to joint funds, you may be required to pay her some cash each month so she can pay her basic living expenses such as food, clothing and gas.
Angie Gambone is an attorney who has been writing for various websites since 2009. She covers a variety of topics, focusing on legal issues, family law and LGBT rights. Gambone holds a bachelor's degree in social work from Rutgers University and a law degree from Rutgers School of Law, where she graduated with honors in 2010.