Divorce is a difficult process under the best of circumstances. The process can become even more complicated and contentious when spouses can’t agree on anything. The term “bifurcate” means to split something into two separate pieces. Therefore, in a bifurcated divorce, the court grants the divorce itself before resolving other issues in the case.
What is the Purpose of a Bifurcated Divorce?
Deciding to end a marriage is always a complicated choice, and the process can be even more complex if significant assets or children are involved. A bifurcated divorce can be helpful when the parties want to move on with their lives but cannot agree on other matters, such as property division or spousal support.
Bifurcation may be requested at any time during the proceedings, but it is most commonly sought early on, typically soon after filing the petition or responsive pleading.
This type of divorce is typically used when one party is seeking to remarry and needs to resolve the issue of divorce before doing so. California does require a six-month waiting period after a divorce is finalized before a spouse can remarry. However, a bifurcated divorce speeds up the process by separating the dissolution of the marriage from the other issues.
It can also benefit couples who have been married for a long time and have complex financial issues that must be resolved. After the court issues the judgment of divorce, a separate trial will be set to settle the other problems, such as:
- If a prenuptial agreement is valid
- The date of the separation and the date to use for the valuation of marital assets
- Determining which property is marital and which is separate
- The division of marital property
- The valuation of a shared business or the increase in value of a company during the marriage
- Physical and legal custody of any children
- Parenting time of both parents
- Child and spousal support
- Any other issues
The Pros and Cons of a Bifurcated Divorce
This type of divorce can help couples who want to avoid a lengthy and contentious divorce process. It can also be beneficial for couples who wish to keep their finances separate during the divorce. In addition, a bifurcated divorce can help protect assets and ensure that property is divided fairly. Finally, a bifurcated divorce can give couples more control over the divorce process.
However, there are also a couple of potential drawbacks to consider. First, a bifurcated divorce can be more expensive than a traditional divorce, as it requires two separate court appearances. Also, it can be emotionally exhausting as you and your ex-spouse work through the contested issues.
Discuss Your Concerns With Our Experienced Lawyers
If you are considering a bifurcated divorce, it’s essential to seek legal advice from an experienced family law attorney who understands California’s laws. Our lawyers at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri know that each situation is unique, and we will work with you for the best possible outcome for your particular circumstances. Contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help you by calling (408) 553-0801.