Robert A. Bonavito, CPA PC

Divorce Series Part 4: Pendente Lite

My name is Robert Bonavito, New Jersey forensic accountant. This video is part of a series of videos where I discuss forensic accounting topics for educational purposes only. If this was a litigated matter, I would take a different approach, have different conclusions based on different facts...

Hi, everybody welcome to part four of our matrimonial and divorce segment where today we're gonna discuss quickly and hopefully in detail, enough details that you can get a good understanding, pendente lite. And anybody who gets divorced or talk to someone who's divorced, they always say, "Pendente Lite." Everybody likes to throw that term around.

I have one friend who did some...he owns a CPA firm and he did some work on divorce, and he's only...every time I talk to him, "Pendente lite, pendente lite." I guess it sounds good, but all it means is awaiting litigation, okay? And, you know, sometimes it's called pendente lite's temporary alimony, which, it's meant to cover the non-moneyed spouse's living expenses during divorce. Because think about it, okay, let's say you have a moneyed spouse and a non-moneyed spouse, right?

And the money spouse leaves and goes into a condo in Hoboken, right, or something like that. But you have the non-moneyed spouse at home sometimes with children, and they need to pay bills, go to, you know, soccer lessons and that type of stuff, or piano lessons. And what the judge has to do is order pendente lite, okay? This is gonna be, like, temporary alimony. And, you know, it's counter-intuitive in some respects because you just are getting divorced and how do you know how much money you need, right?

You know, there could be dissipation and stuff like that that happened during the marriage where, like, let's say the husband was...I had a husband, he bought a townhouse in Hoboken for his girlfriend. Well, that has to be considered in pendente lite. So, you need to figure out things pretty quickly. And that's why I'm saying be organized, whether you're a lawyer, whether you're a forensic accountant, or you're getting divorced, you need to understand kind of what you want, what you need to live on.

And the problem is, like I said, even though it's right away, it's counter-intuitive. This is very important to establish this, because this will come into establishing the lifestyle, and a lot of people use that. And judges and attorneys are getting smart in some respects, because sometimes what they're doing is just having one party pay expenses rather than call it pendente lite

So, a lot of things... This is a very fluid topic, something that is very complex, but generally I want you just to be familiar with the basic terms. And, you know, this here...this... Again, case law is important. And there's this case called Mallamo versus Mallamo has to do with pendente lite about establishing what's called, you know, the lifestyle. And you may want can find this on the internet and take a read through it. But the important thing I want you to get out of this is that this is sort of like temporary alimony

And this sets the stage for how the judge will rule on alimony and child support, right? So, you're thrust into a divorce and you have to make this pendente lite decision right away. But what this Mallamo case says is, "Hey, the judge is gonna...this is setting the stage for what you're gonna get because the judge..." Let's say the divorce goes on for a year and you've been living on pendente lite and paying all your bills, well, he's gonna say, "Hey, maybe this is a good indicator of how much money they need."

So, be aware of that. And listen, I know this is a quick summary, but if you guys have questions, just leave them below. And, you know, and one of my analysts, right, will get back to you. Hopefully you enjoyed this. Robert A. Bonavito, CPA.

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