An urgent and oft presented question when faced with the prospect of a divorce, particularly from non-monied spouses: “How will the finances work during the course of my divorce or custody matter?” “How do I get alimony and child support while my divorce is pending?” Finally, there is an expedited path to financial relief (soon to be available) — thanks to the Connecticut legislature.
During COVID and the family court’s simultaneous change to the new “Pathways” docket management process, a very limited tier of proceedings previously existed to bring emergency proceedings before the court. Motions that qualified for this limited tier emergency matters were referred to as a “Priority 1” matter. Priority 1 matters included: emergency custody applications, restraining orders, and certain types of emergency injunctive relief – all aimed at obtaining temporary orders to be held in place while your divorce is pending.
These emergency proceedings all embraced incredibly important claims, but gaping holes remained for what matters could be filed and heard. Wait no more, important relief has arrived to schedule the prompt hearing of financial claims during the pendency of a divorce of custody matter.
The Connecticut General Assembly recently passed Public Act 23-7, passed by the legislature and approved by the Governor. The new rules go into effect on January 1, 2024. This act sets “a timeframe within which the court must hold a hearing on temporary financial support in divorce, legal separation, annulment, and custody proceedings.” The act specifically addresses “pendente lite” proceedings (a.k.a. proceedings involving temporary orders involving Alimony and Child Support), which are proceedings that entertain motions for “orders” put in place by the family judge until the final outcome of the case.
Public Act 23-7 sets a timeframe during which the court must hold a hearing – which is now mandated to be heard within 60 days following the filing date of:
(1) A motion requesting an initial order of alimony or support pendente lite; and;
(2) The moving party’s accompanying affidavit making specific attestations necessary to support the scheduling required by the act;
And while there is room for that hearing to be continued to another date, the act further sets special conditions which are intended to protect the right to have that hearing held promptly.
As of the time of this writing, this procedural change is still a few months away from implementation by the Connecticut family courts, so its impact cannot be analyzed yet. However, Public Act 23-7 clearly addresses a long-identified need in pending family cases, which should now allow expedited access to a hearing in front of a judge on certain financial matters (including temporary alimony and child support) during the pendency of most family cases. It will especially be helpful to non-monied spouses to obtain relief related spousal support, child support, and custody.
Whether you are the monied or non-monied spouse, pendente lite (aka temporary) proceedings are an important milestone in the process of a divorce and are of material consequence. As always, it is important to seek the help of an experienced divorce and family law attorney, who appears regularly in the family court venue to which your case will appear and with whom you are extremely comfortable. The relationship with your divorce attorney will be most successful if it is built around trust, as it can be a long-bumpy process.