Thursday, February 25, 2010

What is a Bifurcated Divorce: Splitting your Dissolution Case into Parts

In some states, the court will allow a divorce case to be bifurcated or split into two parts. Generally, if a case is bifurcated, the first issue resolved is marital status. The court grants the couple a divorce – making them each legally single again – but reserves all remaining issues for trial at a later date. The remaining issues could include matters such as property distribution,child custody, child support, alimony or business valuation.

The reasons for bifurcation are many and vary from case to case. The most common reasons for bifurcation are spouses who wish toremarry, tax implications of filing income tax returns as a single person, complex financial matters which will take a substantial amount of time (months or even years) to review and analyze before any property settlement can be considered and the psychological impact of legally ending the marriage.

In especially bitter divorces, a bifurcation can prevent one spouse from trying to wield power over the other spouse’s personal life by delaying the ultimate resolution of the case. Some believe that a bifurcation in that instance takes a bit of wind out of the sails of the stalling party. The case may not be over but the parties are divorced and free to live their lives as single people. The breaking of that legal tie can also help spouses begin to move on emotionally from a troubled marriage- even if they are still hammering out details of a settlement or arguing over other issues. On the flip side, the actual divorce can be an excellent incentive to reach a settlement. In a bifurcated case, that incentive is taken away.

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For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at


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