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Appealing Pendente Lite (PDL) Judgments in a Divorce

Judgments and orders Pendente Lite (“PDL”) in a divorce may order that one party is awarded attorney fees, child custody, child support, and/or spousal maintenance while the litigation is pending. Although a PDL action falls under scope of the overall divorce proceeding — and is made in anticipation of a final dissolution decree —  it is considered a separate, appealable action.

Specifically, an award pendente lite is in the nature of an independent cause of action. A PDL order is a final judgment on the merits of the motion from which an appeal may be taken. If no appeal is taken, execution may issue on the pendente lite order. Scott v. Scott, 157 S.W.3d 332, 225 (Mo. Ct. App. 2005).

This is not to say that if there is an unfavorable PDL Judgment it automatically merits an appeal. Appeals are quite costly because of the rigorous briefing requirements in the Courts of Appeals. Indeed, to merit an appeal, there needs to be a mistake of fact or law in the trial court’s PDL Order. Moreover, from a practical perspective, the PDL order must be such that it merits expending additional time and money to have it reviewed on appeal; in other words, a slightly unfavorable PDL Judgment may not be worth appealing and contesting.

Contact us with questions relating to PDL motions and divorce questions in general.

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