Among the important issues which must be dealt with in any divorce, spousal support can be a source of confusion. Will it be necessary? If so, how much and for how long? When we think of spousal support, we tend to think of its long-term implications. But there’s also a short-term possibility that is often glossed over, particularly in regards to couples with a high net worth.
During the litigation itself
Tennessee codifies spousal support in Section 36-5-121 of its codes. Within that section, a declaration is made, recognizing the importance of the traditional family unit and the role of a homemaker. Tennessee equates the homemaking spouse’s importance with that of the breadwinning spouse and considers spousal support necessary when one spouse will suffer financial disadvantage as a result of the divorce.
Pendente lite spousal support, or temporary spousal support, is support directed toward rectifying any imbalance which exists while divorce litigation is pending, rather than toward long-term needs. This can be particularly relevant in high-asset divorces, as the varied interests of such a divorce can complicate and extend the proceeding beyond that of most divorces.
By way of example, let’s say that, upon deciding to divorce, the breadwinning spouse of a high-asset couple moves out of the house, while the homemaking spouse remains to care for the children. Because there are things like a business that must be valued, stocks, retirement accounts and other complex assets, the divorce itself drags on.
The homemaking spouse must be able to pay the bills and the legal expenses associated with the contested divorce. It is this type of scenario to which temporary spousal support is directed. It can last for the duration of the divorce proceeding but not beyond, automatically ending with the final divorce decree.