Virginia courts are empowered to grant a variety of forms of temporary relief, called pendente lite, while a divorce or other domestic relations suit is pending. The Virginia Code sets forth these various forms of relief, and lists the valid reasons for granting such temporary relief. Some common reasons for granting temporary relief for one party to a domestic suit are:
To enable a spouse to carry on the suit;
To prevent either spouse from imposing any restraint on the personal liberty of the other spouse;
To provide for the upkeep and maintenance of the family residence during the pendency of the suit; and
To provide necessary support for any child of the parties to whom a duty of support is owed.
In many domestic relations cases, it will be apparent before filing suit that the plaintiff will require pendent lite relief. In those cases, the plaintiff may request pendent lite relief in the initial complaint. In other suits, where the need for temporary relief becomes apparent only after commencement of the suit, an independent motion or request to the court may be made. If the court is persuaded that temporary relief is appropriate, it will enter an order for the parties to obey. This pendent lite order has no presumptive effect on the determinations made by the court in its final decree. In other words, the terms of the order govern only until the court makes its final ruling on the merits of the case, and the court is not bound to maintain or increase the award of the pendent lite order.