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One of the hardest problems facing each person when a couple separates is how to handle the finances until everything can be resolved.  This is called the pendente lite stage.  Both short and long-term decisions will be required, and many decisions are inter-related.

Short-term decisions include:

       * Where will each person live and what will it cost?
       * Who will be responsible for bills and expenses?
       * Will the couple continue to have joint bank accounts and joint
          credit cards, and for how long?
       * Will a homemaker wife have to seek any immediate full or
          part-time employment?
       * Will there be any payments of child support?  Spousal support?
       * Who gets to use what assets until things are finalized?
       * Who collects the income from investments?
       * Can either person sell or dispose of assets?
       * Can either person withdraw funds from any existing equity line?
       * Will there be any changes in standard of living?  If so, what?

These decisions set the tone for more permanent arrangements.

A good family law attorney can help you work out appropriate pendent lite (temporary) arrangements if your spouse will cooperate in trying to arrive at a fair arrangement.  If, however, your spouse acts arbitrarily and unfairly, you will need to take prompt steps to protect yourself, as things that happened at the temporary stage can have a dramatic impact on any final settlement or award.  Select a family law attorney at a very early stage to help you through this process.  Be sure the attorney you choose will help you explore all avenues of possible settlement, and will empower you to understand your options for making informed decisions for yourself.

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