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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 5, 2019 08:33 AM
From: Representative Sheryl M. Delozier
To: All House members
Subject: Alimony Pendente Lite Reform – (Former HB 1250)
In the near future, I will be re-introducing legislation aimed at returning a measure of reasonableness and fairness to the divorce process.

Alimony pendente lite (APL) is financial support in the form of monthly payments to a financially-dependent spouse during process of the divorce. The purpose APL is simply to ensure that, while the parties are negotiating the terms of the divorce and permanent property settlement, a financially-dependent spouse is not placed at a strategic disadvantage by reason of suddenly finding himself or herself with insufficient income. APL is essentially about fairness.

It has come to my attention that this is largely theoretical, however. In reality, the courts typically calculate the presumptively “appropriate” amount of support using guidelines that don’t even take into account what should be threshold questions: Can the parties independently meet their own needs? Will one party otherwise be disadvantaged in the divorce process if not granted temporary financial support? Over-reliance on a formula that doesn’t even take the purpose of APL into account, the fact that the payments end only when the divorce is finalized, and the fact that APL awards are unappealable all work together to encourage inefficiency and unfair dealing. And what was intended to be an equalizer is often turned into its opposite: a tool for financial coercion.

I don’t want to do away with APL – only the perversion of its purpose. My bill will prohibit the court from basing an APL award solely on presumptive guidelines, and it will require that any APL award be based upon a finding that the petitioning spouse’s income is insufficient to provide for his or her needs and to simultaneously maintain the litigation without unfair disadvantage.

Introduced as HB587