Divorce is a complicated and emotional process often involving many issues, such as property division, spousal support, child custody, and visitation.
In some cases, however, one or both parties may want to legally end the marriage before resolving these issues. This is known as bifurcating a divorce.
Bifurcation is a legal term that refers to separating the divorce proceedings into two distinct parts.
In this article, we will explore the top reasons to consider bifurcating your divorce and how it can benefit you.
Reasons to Consider Bifurcating Your Divorce
1. You Want to Get Remarried As Soon As Possible
Bifurcating a divorce can be a good idea if one spouse wants to get remarried as soon as possible.
Bifurcation allows for the legal termination of the marriage to be finalized quickly while other issues related to the divorce, such as property division, spousal support, and child custody, are still being negotiated.
This means that the spouse who wants to get remarried can do so without waiting for the entire divorce process to be completed.
2. A Spouse Filed for Bankruptcy
Bifurcating a divorce can be a good idea if one spouse files for bankruptcy. When a spouse files for bankruptcy, it can significantly slow down the divorce process because the bankruptcy court will need to approve any property division or support payments that are part of the divorce settlement.
By bifurcating the divorce, the legal termination of the marriage can be finalized while the bankruptcy court continues to oversee the resolution of financial issues related to the divorce.
Bifurcating the divorce can prevent unnecessary delays in the divorce process caused by the bankruptcy and allow both parties to move on with their lives.
3. Filing For Taxes as “Single” or “Head of Household” Rather Than as a Married Person
Bifurcating a divorce can be a good idea if you want to file taxes as a single or head of household instead of a married person.
When married, you generally have to file taxes jointly with your spouse, which can result in a higher tax liability.
By bifurcating the divorce, you can become legally divorced and file your taxes as a single or head of household, which may result in a lower tax liability.
The tax advantages of bifurcation can include the following:
- Lower tax rates: When you file as a single or head of household, you may qualify for lower tax rates than if you filed jointly with your spouse.
- Higher standard deduction: The standard deduction for a single or head of household is often higher than for married couples filing jointly.
- More tax credits: You may qualify for more tax credits as a single or head of household, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Child Tax Credit.
You should consult a qualified divorce attorney and a tax professional to determine whether bifurcation is the best option for your circumstances.
4. You Both Agree You Want a Divorce Now, But Can’t Agree on a Complex Issue Like Child Custody or Alimony
Bifurcating a divorce can be a good idea if the spouses agree they want a divorce and can agree on most issues but are hung up on a single issue like child custody or alimony that they cannot agree on.
Bifurcation allows for the legal termination of the marriage to be finalized quickly while the issue that the spouses cannot agree on is still being negotiated or litigated. This can prevent unnecessary delays in the divorce process and allow both parties to move on with their lives.
5. Save Time and Money
Bifurcating your divorce can save you time and money by allowing you to finalize certain issues before others.
For example, if you and your spouse cannot agree on child custody or support, bifurcation can allow you to finalize the property division and move on with your life. This can save you from spending months or even years fighting over all the issues at once.
6. Emotional Closure
Bifurcation can provide emotional closure by allowing you to finalize specific divorce-related issues and move on with your life.
It can also provide a sense of control by allowing you to focus on the issues that matter most to you. For example, if you are eager to remarry or start a new chapter in your life, bifurcation can allow you to legally end your marriage and move forward.
7. Protection of Business Interests
Bifurcation can also protect your interests in certain business situations. For example, if you and your spouse own a business together, bifurcation can allow you to finalize the business division while negotiating other issues.
This can prevent one spouse from making decisions that could negatively impact the business during the divorce process.
8. Simplification of Complex Cases
In some cases, divorce proceedings can become quite complex. Bifurcation can simplify the process by allowing you to focus on one issue at a time.
For example, if you and your spouse have multiple properties, bifurcation can allow you to finalize the division of one property before moving on to the next. This can prevent the process from becoming overwhelming and help you to stay organized.
What Issues Can Be Tried Separately in a Bifurcated Divorce?
Certain issues can be tried separately in a bifurcated divorce, while others are resolved later.
The specific issues that can be tried separately depend on the laws of the state where the divorce takes place and the individual circumstances of the divorce.
Some of the most common issues that can be bifurcated include the following:
- Termination of marital status: This is the most common issue bifurcated in a divorce. Bifurcation allows the court to end the marriage legally, even if other issues related to the divorce, such as property division or child custody, are still being resolved.
- Division of property and debts: As previously mentioned, property division can be bifurcated if the parties wish to finalize the division of assets and debts before resolving other issues related to the divorce.
- Child custody and visitation: Bifurcation of child custody issues may occur if the parties cannot agree on a parenting plan but wish to proceed with the termination of the marriage.
- Child support: If the parties cannot agree on the terms of child support, bifurcation can be used to resolve this issue before other aspects of the divorce.
- Alimony: Spousal support or alimony can be bifurcated if the parties cannot agree on the terms of the support arrangement but wish to proceed with the termination of the marriage.
- Whether the property is separate or community: Bifurcation can be used to determine whether the property is separate or community, particularly if the parties cannot agree on characterizing certain assets.
- Existence or value of a business or professional goodwill: If there is a dispute over the existence or value of a company or professional goodwill, bifurcation may be used to resolve this issue before proceeding with other aspects of the divorce.
- Attorney’s fees and costs: In some cases, bifurcation may be used to determine the issue of attorney’s fees and costs before proceeding with other aspects of the divorce.
It is important to note that not all states allow for the bifurcation of divorce issues, and even in states that do, the court may have discretion in determining which issues can be bifurcated.
Q: Can I Bifurcate My Divorce if My Spouse Doesn’t Agree?
A: Yes, you can request bifurcation even if your spouse disagrees. However, the judge will need to consider whether bifurcation is in the best interest of both parties.
Q: Can I change my mind about bifurcation later on?
A: No, you cannot change your mind once you have bifurcated your divorce. It is important to consider whether bifurcation is the right choice for you before moving forward.
In conclusion, bifurcating your divorce can be a viable option for those seeking a quick resolution to the legal termination of their marriage, emotional closure, or financial benefits.
However, it is not a decision to be taken lightly and should be carefully considered in light of your circumstances. Consult an experienced divorce attorney to help you make the best decisions for you and your family.