For couples ready to move on with their lives, finalizing a divorce can seem like it’s taking forever. In some cases, the process can drag on for months or even years, leaving both parties feeling frustrated and stuck.
That’s where divorce bifurcation comes in. This legal process allows couples to separate divorce proceedings into two parts.
Divorce bifurcation is a legal process that allows couples to become legally single before all issues related to their divorce have been resolved.
In other words, divorce bifurcation allows couples to end their marriage without finalizing issues such as property division, spousal support, or child custody.
What is Divorce Bifurcation?
Divorce bifurcation is a legal process that allows couples to finalize the termination of their marriage without resolving all other issues related to their divorce.
In other words, the couple can end their marriage and become legally single before resolving issues such as property division, spousal support, and child custody.
Divorce bifurcation is typically used in cases where one or both parties are eager to move on with their lives and become legally single, but other issues related to the divorce are still being negotiated or litigated.
By using divorce bifurcation, couples can effectively end their marriage and move forward with their lives without having to wait for the resolution of all outstanding issues related to their divorce.
An Example of When a Couple Should Consider Bifurcating Their Divorce
It is common for a court to agree to a bifurcated divorce when the only issue the couple cannot agree on is child custody and visitation.
For example, if both parties agree on all other issues, such as property division, spousal support, and child support, but cannot agree on the custody and visitation of their children, they may opt for a bifurcated divorce.
This would allow them to finalize their divorce and address the other issues they agree on while delaying the resolution of the child custody and visitation issues until a later time.
They may also choose to enter into mediation to resolve the custody and visitation issues outside of court, hoping to reach an agreement and avoid a lengthy court battle.
How Does Divorce Bifurcation Work?
The process of divorce bifurcation varies from state to state, but it generally involves filing a motion with the court requesting to bifurcate the divorce.
Once the court grants the motion, the couple can finalize the dissolution of their marriage while leaving other issues unresolved. This allows each party to move on with their lives as a single person while they continue to work on resolving the other issues related to their divorce.
Which States Allow Bifurcated Divorces?
The laws surrounding divorce bifurcation vary by state in the United States. Currently, the following states allow for divorce bifurcation:
It is important to note that the laws surrounding divorce bifurcation can change. Couples should consult with an experienced family law attorney in their state to determine if this option is available.
Pros of Divorce Bifurcation
Divorce bifurcation can have several advantages for couples looking to move on from their marriage. Some of the pros of a bifurcated divorce include the following:
1. Speeds up the Divorce Process
One of the main advantages of divorce bifurcation is that it can significantly speed up the divorce process. By separating the dissolution of the marriage from the resolution of other issues, couples can become legally single and move on with their lives more quickly.
2. Simplify the Divorce Proceedings
By separating the legal divorce from other issues related to the divorce, bifurcation can simplify the legal proceedings and make them more manageable for both parties.
3. Reducing Stress
Divorce can be a long and stressful process. Bifurcation can reduce some of this stress by allowing couples to become legally single and move on with their lives. At the same time, other issues related to their divorce are still being negotiated or litigated.
4. Protecting Assets
In some cases, one party may be eager to end the marriage and move on with their life, while the other party may be dragging out the proceedings to gain more financial advantage. Bifurcation can protect the assets of the party eager to move on by allowing them to become legally single and move on with their life without waiting for the resolution of all outstanding issues.
5. Protects Against Future Debt Obligations
In some cases, one party may be liable for debts or other financial obligations incurred by the other party during the marriage.
For example, say the couple’s joint credit card debt is being negotiated. If the couple is not bifurcating their divorce and the debt has not been fully resolved, both parties remain financially liable for the debt.
This means that if one party were to incur additional debt on the joint account after the divorce but before the debt is fully resolved, both parties would be responsible for that debt.
However, if the couple were to bifurcate their divorce and become legally single before the debt is fully resolved, the party eager to move on would be protected from any future debt incurred by their former spouse.
This is because once the divorce is bifurcated, both parties become financially independent and responsible for their own debts and obligations.
6. Provides Closure
Divorce can be a long and emotionally draining process. Divorce bifurcation can provide a sense of closure to both parties by allowing them to end their marriage and move on with their lives as single individuals.
Cons of Divorce Bifurcation
While there may be some advantages to a bifurcated divorce, there are also several cons to consider:
1. Increases Legal Costs
Divorce bifurcation can lead to additional legal costs, as each party may need to hire an attorney to help them resolve the remaining issues related to their divorce. A bifurcated divorce will require at least two separate hearings. You will be paying attorney fees for both hearings if you have an attorney.
2. Delays Resolution of Other Issues
While divorce bifurcation can speed up the divorce process, it can also delay the resolution of other issues related to the divorce. Once divorced, it is common for one of the parties to lose interest in resolving the rest of the divorce issues, leading to delay.
3. Uncertainty and Stress
A bifurcated divorce can also cause stress and uncertainty for both parties. Since the division of assets and other matters are postponed to a later hearing, it may take some time to finalize the divorce. This can prolong the stress and uncertainty for both parties.
4. Potential for Conflict
The delay in resolving or settling the remaining issues may also increase the potential for conflict between the parties. This can be especially true regarding child custody and support matters, as the parties may have different ideas about what is in the best interests of their children.
5. Lack of Closure
A bifurcated divorce can also make it difficult for both parties to move on emotionally. Since the divorce is not completely finalized until all issues are resolved, gaining closure and moving on with their lives can be challenging.
Overall, a bifurcated divorce may be appropriate in certain situations, but you should consider the potential downsides before pursuing this option.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Q: Is divorce bifurcation available in every state?
A: No, divorce bifurcation is not available in every state. Couples should consult with an attorney in their state to determine if this option is available.
Q: Will divorce bifurcation speed up the resolution of all issues related to the divorce?
A: No, divorce bifurcation only speeds up the dissolution of the marriage. Other issues related to the divorce, such as property division, spousal support, and child custody, will still need to be resolved.
Divorce bifurcation can be a game-changer for couples ready to move on with their lives but stuck in the divorce process.
It allows couples to become legally single and move forward with their lives while leaving unresolved issues related to their divorce.