Divorce is a chaotic process, and this is especially true at the very beginning of the process. At the start, both parties’ emotions are raw and they are angry. To add to that, the parties are often still living together, have not divided any personal possessions, and still have all financial matters closely intertwined with each other. Understanding who pays what after a divorce is filed can help settle some of the frayed nerves.
Housing, whether that is a mortgage or rent for an apartment, is often the largest expense that a couple shares, so it is common for this to be the biggest area of initial concern. The typical rule is that the parties need to continue to contribute to the housing expense in the same proportion as they did before the separation. For example, if the wife typically contributed 15% of her income toward the mortgage, she will need to keep doing this after the divorce is filed, even if she moves out.
The same principle applies to credit cards, vehicle payments, insurance premiums, or any other monthly payment that the parties have been paying during the marriage. If the husband has generally been responsible for paying both parties’ cell phone bills, he needs to continue to do so until the court tells him to do otherwise. The goal is to maintain the marital status quo.
If the spouse with the financial advantage refuses to continue to pay his or her share of the bills while the divorce is pending, the other spouse may file a motion with the court for temporary spousal support. Temporary spousal support has the goal of helping the economically disadvantaged spouse to continue to maintain living expenses during the divorce. This can come in two forms. One way is that the spouse with more income may be ordered to pay a particular sum of money to the other spouse every month. In essence, the amount of money will represent the amount of the other spouse’s monthly expenses, less that spouse’s monthly income, although other factors can be considered. Another option is to have the spouse with more income directly pay particular bills. In order to get a court to order a spouse to pay this temporary alimony (also called “pendente lite alimony”), the requesting party will have to file a motion with the court. Both parties will have to submit detailed financial information to the court, who will then decide who pays what bills.
The beginning of a divorce means lots of changes. We have helped many clients sort through the chaos and reinstate stability. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 for an appointment to talk about your divorce and your strategy.