Bifurcation: Terminating Your Marital Status Sooner
Are you currently going through a divorce in California that is taking too long to finalize? There are many issues other than the termination of marital status that must be resolved in a divorce.
Often times, divorce proceedings can be a very emotional process, which can drag out the
resolution of issues such as child support, child custody, spousal support, and the division of
community property and debts. Bifurcation allows the court to terminate your marital status
before all of the other issues in your case are resolved.
What is Bifurcation?
California Rule of Court 5.390 allows the court to separate one or more issues and try them
before trial if the resolution of those issues would likely simplify the determination of the other
issues. The court may bifurcate issues such as:
● The validity of a postnuptual or premarital agreement;
● Date of separation;
● Date to use for valuation of assets;
● Whether property is separate or community;
● How to apportion increase in value of a business;
● Existence or value of a business or professional goodwill;
● Termination of status of a marriage or domestic partnership;
● Child custody and visitation;
● Child, spousal, or domestic partner support;
● Attorney’s fees and costs
● Division of property and debts;
● Reimbursement claims; or
● Other issues specific to a family law case
A common issue to bifurcate is the termination of the marital status. A termination of marital
status allows the parties to return their status to “single” before trial and before all other issues in the case are resolved. Bifurcating the marital status from other issues has been encouraged by courts because “ the dissolution of marriage should not be postponed merely because issues relating to property, support, attorney fees or child custody [are] unready for decision." Gionis v. Superior Court (1988) 202 Cal.App.3d 786, 788.
Requirements for Bifurcation
A party seeking to bifurcate to terminate their marital status must meet certain requirements
before a bifurcation may be requested. A request for bifurcation may be made if at least six
months have passed since the date the Respondent (the party who did not file for divorce) has
been served. Additionally, in order to file for bifurcation, you must have served your preliminary declarations of disclosure on the other party, which includes a completed schedule of assets and debts and an income and expense declaration.
Reasons for Filing a Bifurcation
There are many reasons why a bifurcation would be an optimal choice. For one, the other party may be purposefully prolonging the resolution of certain issues in order to delay the finalization of your divorce. With a bifurcation to terminate martial status, the other party could possibly be more inclined to resolve other issues and streamline your divorce if your statuses are returned to single. Another reason why bifurcation could be a choice for you is the ability to file taxes under a single or head of household status. Additionally, following a termination of the marital status, you have the possibility of restoring your maiden name and you are allowed to remarry while other issues in your divorce remain pending. Further, terminating the marital status could also bring comfort in a situation where emotions often run high.
A bifurcation to terminate marital status could be the difference between remaining legally
married for a prolonged period of time until all issues in your divorce are resolved, and starting your new life as a single person before all issues are resolved.
At Harris & McKeown Law Firm, we understand that each marriage and divorce is unique. Our
diligent and experienced Orange County attorneys can help you determine whether bifurcation is the right option for you and assist you in terminating your marriage in an efficient manner. Harris & McKeown Law Firm has been assisting clients throughout Orange County and the surrounding Southern California area with their divorce and family law matters for over 10 years.
To discuss your options in a confidential consultation with a Southern California family law
attorney, schedule an appointment online or by calling (949) 297-6529.
THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.
EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT AND THIS GUIDE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS
LEGAL ADVICE. THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY CLIENT
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE READER AND ITS AUTHOR. IF YOU HAVE LEGAL
QUESTIONS, CONSULT WITH A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY.