When Should You Request a Bifurcation Divorce?
Facing the prospect of a divorce is never pleasant – but it can become even more emotionally trying when the divorce has many issues to resolve. Thankfully, you have an option called a “bifurcation divorce.” The word “bifurcation” means to split or divide. It essentially “splits” the issue of marital status (or other matter) off from the other matters in a divorce, allowing you to be granted single status while the other matters are negotiated or litigated separately.
In California, it takes six months to end a marriage, but the bottom line is that it is typically months longer, at best. Thankfully, the law provides a legal option called a “Motion for Bifurcation,” which can restore your single status after six months from filing a divorce, allowing the more complex matters such as property division and spousal support to be resolved over time – which in some cases, can take months or even years to resolve.
Reasons to Get a Bifurcation Divorce
One of the primary reasons a person may want to be granted the legal status of a single person is the wish to remarry. In these cases, the judge is very likely to grant the motion for bifurcation. You may seek a bifurcation divorce to allow you to file singly on taxes. If you pay child support, you can write the payments off on your taxes – but you must file as a single person.
The decision to have a bifurcation divorce is important and should be thoroughly discussed with your divorce lawyer and your accountant, so you fully understand the impact on taxation or other financial matters.
How Does a Bifurcation Divorce Work?
The process involves a request to the court, asking to terminate your marital status while the other matters in the divorce go through the necessary legal process. To file the motion, it must be six months from the initial divorce filing. A separate trial will be held to resolve the issue of marital status, without touching on the other matters. Several other issues in a divorce can be bifurcated, under the California Rules of Court, Rule 5.390.
These matters include the validity of a premarital or prenuptial agreement, the date of separation, the date for a full valuation of assets, determine whether property is separate or community property, or deciding on support, division of assets, and various other issues. Separating a critical aspect of a divorce can speed the marriage dissolution process, allow you to remarry, or resolve significant financial matters with less delay.
The court will insist you have a good reason for a bifurcation divorce, as well as having completed and served the “Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure.” This legal disclosure is required in divorce and lists your assets, debts, income, and expenses.
For more information about a bifurcation divorce, connect with Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. to speak to our family law team at (858) 458-9500. Our founder, Thomas M. Huguenor is a Certified Specialist in Family Law and can answer your questions about a bifurcation divorce.