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What is a Pendente Lite Hearing?

"Pendente lite" is Latin for "pending litigation" and refers to temporary relief the Court can award to spouses while their divorce litigation is pending.

A pendente lite hearing is typically scheduled within 3-4 months of the filing of the initial Complaint. At the hearing, the Court can award temporary relief to either party, including visitation, child support, alimony, attorney's fees, litigation costs, maintenance of health insurance and use and possession of the family home (if residential custody is not disputed).

In Montgomery County, a pendente lite hearing is heard before a Family Division Master in the Circuit Court, who makes recommendations to a Judge. Either party may file exceptions if they object or disagree with the recommendations. The exceptions are then ruled upon by a Judge.

Once a pendente lite order is issued by a Judge, it will stay in effect until the parties' custody trial and/or divorce trial.


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Maryland law requires equitable distribution of property in a divorce. The court determines a fair award of property and debt. Unless the couple can reach a settlement, the court divides the marital property, pension, retirement, profit sharing or deferred-compensation plans. The court considers contributions of each party, the well being of the family, the property value, the economic circumstances of each spouse as well as current situations such as age, mental state, the duration of the marriage, and the interest each party has in the property.
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