Wife Rights During Separation Before a Divorce

By Beverly Bird

All spouses have certain rights, but they’re usually not enforceable without court intervention. Before the court can act, you must initiate a lawsuit against your husband. After you've filed a petition for divorce or for legal separation, a judge can enter orders to protect you and your interests. You can ask the court to order your husband to do something while your divorce is pending or to make him stop doing something.


If your husband was the primary breadwinner during your marriage and you’re no longer living together, you may have a right to temporary or “pendente lite” financial support until your divorce is final. Pendente lite is a legal term that means the order is only good until the terms of your divorce decree take over. If a judge awards you temporary support, it does not necessary mean you’ll receive alimony beyond that point. However, it can help you make ends meet until then. You or your attorney can file a motion for pendente lite relief, asking for this.

Household Expenses

If your husband has moved out and you remain living in the marital home, you have a right to help with paying the mortgage and other household expenses. Even if there’s not a great difference between your incomes, a judge might order him to pay half the mortgage and utilities on a pendente lite basis. This might be in lieu of temporary spousal support or in addition to it, depending on the disparity between your incomes. Courts often award this sort of help while your divorce is pending because it serves to keep assets, such as your home, intact until a judge can divide them in a final decree.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More


Your husband cannot sell property, such as real estate, while your divorce is in progress. A judge must have the opportunity to decide your share in a final decree. You generally do not have to file a motion to stop him. In some states, an automatic injunction against dissipating property goes into effect when you file for divorce. In others, you can file a “notice of lis pendens” against the property with your county clerk. A lis pendens is a notice to anyone thinking of buying the property that a lawsuit is pending against it. It prevents him from selling without petitioning the court first and asking for permission.

Child Support

In all states, your right to financial support for your children is paramount. If they are living with you, a court will begin a child support order as soon as you ask for it. Most state legislatures allow you to ask for child support even before you officially file for legal separation or divorce. However, if you don't file for divorce or separation, you must file a separate petition, requesting it.


If your husband attempts to take your children out of state or do anything else radically opposed to their well-being, you can file an order to show cause to stop him in his tracks. Some states implement automatic stays against removing children from the state as soon as you file for divorce. These stays also usually address issues such as removing them or you from coverage on his health insurance policy. If your husband presents a physical danger to you, you can call the police and request a restraining order. This is a criminal suit and is usually separate from your divorce litigation.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
What Are the Legal Rights of Women in Divorce?


Related articles

How Will it Affect Me if My Husband Is Going to File for Bankruptcy Before We Divorce in California?

Your husband's decision to file for bankruptcy, either before you file for divorce or before your divorce is final, can negatively affect you in several different ways. Because California considers property acquired during the marriage to be shared marital property, family assets may be seized to pay your husband's debts; creditors also will come after you for all marital debts since his liability will be discharged by the bankruptcy. Your husband can even discharge his obligations under an existing property settlement agreement.

What to Do If Your Husband Wants a Divorce But You Have No Where to Go?

If you’ve decided to file for divorce, you may want to move out of your marital home as soon as possible to get away from your spouse. However, if you can't afford to move and your husband refuses to leave, you still have options. Spouses who do not have the financial resources to move out can still get a divorce, and the court may help by ordering their husbands to pay spousal support or turn over the marital home to the wife.

Texas Custody Laws on Moms Taking the Children Out of State Before the Divorce

If your marriage is in trouble but you haven’t filed for divorce yet, you may be in a vulnerable position if your wife wants to take your kids and cross the Texas state line. You can remedy that by conferring with an attorney and acting immediately. Both Texas and the federal government have laws in place that allow you to prevent this sort of thing, at least temporarily.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

The Rights of a Deserted Spouse

When your spouse leaves your marriage against your will, it can give you the upper hand in divorce proceedings in some ...

How to Divorce Someone With a Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Even mentally healthy individuals might feel some sense of rejection when they learn their spouses want a divorce. ...

How to Handle a Divorce While Pregnant

When you’re pregnant and divorcing, the effect can be emotionally devastating. If you decide you’re going to move ...

Can My Ex Sue Me After a Bifurcation Divorce?

Divorce laws can vary from state to state, and this is particularly true with the issue of bifurcation. Bifurcating a ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED