What is a Bifurcated Divorce and Should I Ask for One? / by Cassandra Hearn

Divorce cases can sometimes seem to drag on forever.  When spouses are unable to reach any resolution on complex issues such as spousal support or the division of property, the final hearing can be delayed repeatedly while the spouses gather evidence and attempt to resolve some of the issues.  For some couples, a limited amount of relief from a long, drawn-out divorce case can be found in a process called a “bifurcated judgment.”  Bifurcated means to split or to sever, and essentially that is what happens in a bifurcated divorce.  In these cases, the parties are able to obtain the divorce and be returned to being single, even though the other issues remain pending in the case.

There are several reasons why a person may request a bifurcated divorce.  One is that he or she has met a new love interest and wishes to get remarried.  Clearly, the new marriage cannot happen while the spouse remains married to the soon-to-be former spouse.  A bifurcated divorce would let the spouses get a divorce and would allow the new marriage to take place.  Another reason could be that the spouses desire to file as “single” or “head of household” on their taxes.  Finally, as is common, the divorce has been pending for a long time and no resolution is foreseeable in the near future.  A bifurcated divorce would allow the parties to move on with at least one aspect of their lives while continuing to litigate the remaining issues.

There are some requirements and caveats to a bifurcated divorce.  Before the divorce is granted, both parties must complete and serve on the other spouse their preliminary financial disclosure.  Moreover, there is a time constraint.  A bifurcated divorce cannot be granted before six months after the responding spouse has been served with divorce papers.  Even if the divorce is bifurcated, certain conditions must still be met, just as if the parties remained married.  The most significant is often that the party who has been carrying the other spouse on health insurance cannot remove the insured spouse from the insurance coverage.  Some insurance carriers do not allow divorced persons to remain on the same policy.  In such an event, the spouse may be required to reimburse the removed spouse for the cost of health insurance premiums, pay a bond, or create a trust in some circumstances.

 

Bifurcated divorce can be a good solution for many clients eager to move on. Contact us today at 619-800-0384 for a consultation to talk about your divorce and whether bifurcation may be best for you.