What Is Bifurcation? 

Posted in Divorce on March 20, 2024

It is not uncommon for divorce to take a very long time. Decision-making and separating assets can be a complicated process. If your case is dragging out and you want to speed up the process, you may wish to consider bifurcation, a method that aims to help people to move from being married to single faster. It can occur even if you are still fighting over the details of your case. Talk to a Solana Beach divorce attorney from Ratzer|Dobis today.

Understanding Bifurcation

Bifurcation does not resolve all of the decisions necessary to finalize a divorce. It can, however, help to speed up the process of changing your marriage status from “married” to “single” sooner. It focuses specifically on marital status and not the division of assets in divorce.

That means that decisions related to assets, child custody, child support, and related decisions may not be finalized just yet. With bifurcation, though, the case becomes focused heavily on just terminating the marriage itself.

How Is This Done?

A spouse that wishes to utilize this process must petition the court to allow for it. The process involves a separate trial case that focuses solely on the marital status. The court does not always grant this. Most of the time, the court will not allow for it unless more than six months have passed since the initial divorce filing.

More so, to get approved, you must have a good reason for it. You must also have completed the Preliminary Decoration of Disclosure which involves serving a completed Schedule of Assets and Debts, as well as Income and Expense Decoration to the spouse.

Why Consider Bifurcation

Not every situation warrants this process. However, there are various reasons why a person may wish to pursue it, including income tax purposes. There is often a significant difference in tax obligations from “single” to “married” reporting. This could be an important decision to make, then, for monetary reasons.

Other times, a person may wish to pursue bifurcation because the divorce is taking a very long period of time. There may be an impasse in the decisions related to some core component of the marriage, such as child custody or child support. It does not eliminate these decision making needs, but it can help you to move to marital status separation nonetheless.

Another reason to do so is to marry again. There are some situations where a person may wish to pursue bifurcation because they or their spouse wants to marry another person. In order to do that before the divorce is finalized, the bifurcation process must be completed as well.

If you move to this process and it is approved by the court, the marital status is terminated. You are then considered a single person. This allows you to remarry, restore your maiden name if you took your husband’s name at marriage, and file your taxes as “single” or “Head of the Household” based on the situation.

Keep in mind that it is not always approved. If you believe this is a necessary step, your divorce attorney can help you with it.