pendente lite

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Pendente lite is a Latin term that means “pending the suit” or “pending [the] litigation underway.” 

In the context of family law, for example, parties can file motions for pendente lite custody and child support. In Johnson v. Washington, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals recognized that courts need to consider motions for such temporary relief in a timely way: “Because pendente lite support is, by definition, interim and transient, the right to such support can be irretrievably lost by delay.” 

A pendente lite relief enables the parties to proceed with the case. The Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three noted in the case of In re Marriage of McNaughton that the purpose of a pendente lite support award is “to maintain the living conditions and standards of the parties as closely as possible to the status quo, pending trial.” 

Some states may have pendente lite relief statutes, such as the California Family Code § 7604.

[Last updated in November of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team