Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–911. Pendente lite relief.

(a) During the pendency of an action for legal separation, divorce, the termination of a domestic partnership pursuant to § 32-702(d) or § 16-904(e), where one of the domestic partners has filed a petition for relief available under this section, or an action by a spouse to declare the marriage null and void, where the nullity is denied by the other spouse, the court may:

(1) require the spouse or domestic partner to pay pendente lite alimony to the other spouse or domestic partner; require one party to pay pendente lite child support, including health insurance coverage, cash medical support, or both, for his or her minor children committed to another party’s care; and require the spouse or domestic partner to pay suit money, including counsel fees, to enable such other spouse to conduct the case. The Court may enforce any such order by attachment, garnishment, or imprisonment for disobedience, and all support orders shall be enforceable by withholding as provided in § 46-207 and § 46-251.07. In determining pendente lite alimony for a spouse or domestic partner, the Court shall consider the factors set forth in § 16-913(d) and may make an award of pendente lite alimony retroactive to the date of the filing of the pleading that requests alimony.

(2) enjoin any disposition of a spouse’s or domestic partner’s property to avoid the collection of the allowances so required;

(3) if a spouse or domestic partner fails or refuses to pay the alimony or suit money, sequestrate his or her property and apply the income thereof to such objects;

(4) if a party under court order to make payments under this section is in arrears, order the party to make an assignment of part of his or her salary, wages, earnings or other income to the person entitled to receive the payments; and

(5) determine, in accordance with section 16-914, the care and custody of a minor child or children pending final determination of those issues.

(a-1) Repealed.

(a-2) Repealed.

(b) The attachment, garnishment, or assignment under paragraphs (1) and (4) of subsection (a) is binding on the employer, trustee, or other payor of salary, wages, earnings, or other income. No employer shall discharge or otherwise discipline an employee because of such attachment, garnishment, or assignment.

(c) The court may order, at any time, that maintenance or support payments be made to the Collection and Disbursement Unit, as defined in section 46-201(2A) [now § 46-201(3)], for remittance to the person entitled to receive the payments, and shall order that such payments be made to the Collection and Disbursement Unit when the Collection and Disbursement Unit is responsible for collecting and disbursing these payments under section 46-202.01.

(d) The Court may order any other appropriate pendente lite relief.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 561, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; Oct. 1, 1976, D.C. Law 1-87, § 14, 23 DCR 2544; Apr. 7, 1977, D.C. Law 1-107, title I, § 108, 23 DCR 8737; Aug. 25, 1994, D.C. Law 10-154, § 2(a), 41 DCR 4870; May 16, 1995, D.C. Law 10-255, § 14(b), 41 DCR 5193; Apr. 18, 1996, D.C. Law 11-110,§ 24(b), 43 DCR 530; Apr. 18, 1996, D.C. Law 11-112, § 2(a), 43 DCR 574; Apr. 9, 1997, D.C. Law 11-255, § 18(d), 44 DCR 1271; Apr. 20, 1999, D.C. Law 12-241, § 10, 46 DCR 905; Apr. 12, 2000, D.C. Law 13-91, § 142(a), 47 DCR 520; Oct. 19, 2002, D.C. Law 14-207, § 2(f), 49 DCR 7827; Dec. 7, 2004, D.C. Law 15-205, § 3402, 51 DCR 8441; Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-79, § 4(e), 53 DCR 1035; May 12, 2006, D.C. Law 16-100, § 2(f), 53 DCR 1886; Mar. 2, 2007, D.C. Law 16-191, § 131(b), 53 DCR 6794; Mar. 20, 2008, D.C. Law 17-128, § 2(b), 55 DCR 1525; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 20(c), 55 DCR 6758; Mar. 10, 2015, D.C. Law 20-183, § 2(b), 61 DCR 11834; Apr. 9, 2016, D.C. Law 21-105, § 2(d), 63 DCR 217.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-911.

1973 Ed., § 16-911.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-831.03, § 16-916, and § 16-4806.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-91, in subpar. (a)(5)(O), substituted “or Program on Work” for “Program on Work”.

D.C. Law 14-207, in the section heading, substituted “Pendente lite relief.” for “Alimony pendente lite; suit money; enforcement; custody of children.”; in subsec. (a), rewrote pars. (1) and (5); repealed subsecs. (a-1) and (a-2); rewrote subsec. (c); and added subsec. (d).

D.C. Law 15-205 rewrote subsec. (c) which had read as follows: “(c) The Court may order, at any time, that maintenance or support payments be made to the clerk of the court for remittance to the person entitled to receive the payments, and shall order that such payments be made to the clerk of the court when required to implement withholding under section 46-207.”

D.C. Law 16-79, in par. (a)(1)(A), substituted “spouse or domestic partner” for “husband or wife”; in par. (a)(1)(B), substituted “spouse or domestic partner” for “spouse”; in par. (a)(2), substituted “spouse or domestic partner’s” for “spouse’s”; in par. (a)(3), substituted “spouse or domestic partner” for “spouse”; and rewrote the lead-in language to subsec. (a), which had read as follows: “(a) During the pendency of an action for divorce, or an action by the husband or wife to declare the marriage null and void, where the nullity is denied by the other spouse, the court may:”.

D.C. Law 16-100, in par. (a)(1), substituted “and all support orders shall be enforceable by withholding as provide in section 46-207” for “and shall enforce support orders through withholding as required under section 46-207”.

D.C. Law 16-191, in subsec. (a), inserted “available” following “relief” in the introductory language, and substituted “spouse’s or domestic partner’s” for “spouse or domestic partner’s” in par. (2).

D.C. Law 17-128 rewrote subsec. (a)(1), which had read as follows: “(1) require the spouse or domestic partner to pay pendente lite alimony to the other spouse or domestic partner; require one party to pay pendente lite child support for his or her minor children committed to another party’s care; and require the spouse or domestic partner to pay suit money, including counsel fees, to enable such other spouse or domestic partner to conduct the case. The Court may enforce any such order by attachment, garnishment, or imprisonment for disobedience, and all support orders shall be enforceable by withholding as provide in section 46-207. In determining pendente lite alimony for a spouse or domestic partner, the Court shall consider the factors set forth in section 16-913(d) and may make an award of pendente lite alimony retroactive to the date of the filing of the pleading that requests alimony.”

D.C. Law 17-231, in subsec. (a), substituted “§ 32-702(d)” for “§ 32-702”.

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-183 added “legal separation” in the introductory language of (a).

Cross References

Child support enforcement, attachment or garnishment of wages of District of Columbia employees, see § 1-507.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary repeal of D.C. Law 12-103, see § 13 of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Second Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-439, August 12, 1998, 45 DCR 6110).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 5(g) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Act 12-222, December 23, 1997, 44 DCR 114), § 5(g) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-309, March 20, 1998, 45 DCR 1923), § 5(g) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Second Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-439, August 12, 1998, 45 DCR 6110), § 5(g) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Legislative Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-503, October 27, 1998, 45 DCR 8495), and § 5(g) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-600, January 20, 1999, 46 DCR 1239).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 10 of the Self-Sufficiency Promotion Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-372, June 9, 1998, 45 DCR 4270), § 10 of the Self-Sufficiency Promotion Legislative Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-425, July 31, 1998, 45 DCR 5682), § 10 of the Self-Sufficiency Promotion Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-552, December 24, 1998, 46 DCR 521), § 10 of the Self-Sufficiency Promotion Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-19, February 17, 1999, 46 DCR 2492).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 105(g) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-126, August 4, 1999, 46 DCR 6606).

For temporary repeal of D.C. Law 12-210, see § 113 of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-126, August 4, 1999, 46 DCR 6606).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 105(g) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-126, August 4, 1999, 46 DCR 6606).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 105(g) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Legislative Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-177, November 2, 1999, 46 DCR 9678).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 105(g) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-241, January 11, 2000, 47 DCR 581).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 105(g) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-446, November 7, 2000, 47 DCR 9213).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3402 of Fiscal Year 2005 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-486, August 2, 2004, 51 DCR 8236).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3402 of Fiscal Year 2005 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-594, October 26, 2004, 51 DCR 11725).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(f) of Income Withholding Transfer and Revision Emergency Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-167, July 26, 2005, 52 DCR 7648).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(f) of Income Withholding Transfer and Revision Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-200, November 17, 2005, 52 DCR 10490).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 5(g) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Temporary Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Law 12-103, May 8, 1998, law notification 45 DCR 3254).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 5(g) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Temporary Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Law 12-210, April 13, 1999, law notification 46 DCR 3832).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 10 of Self-Sufficiency Promotion Temporary Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Law 12-230, April 20, 1999, law notification 46 DCR 4143).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 105(g) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Temporary Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Law 13-57, March 7, 2000, law notification 47 DCR 1979).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 105(g) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Temporary Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Law 13-207, March 31, 2001, law notification 48 DCR 3238).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 2(f) of the Income Withholding Transfer and Revision Temporary Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Law 16-42, December 10, 2005, law notification 52 DCR 11038).

Short Title

Short title of subtitle D of title III of Law 15-205: Section 3401 of D.C. Law 15-205 provided that subtitle D of title III of the act may be cited as the Child Support Transfer of Functions Amendment Act of 2004.