Divorces often involve complex issues – they are not simply the dissolution of a marriage. In most divorces, community property, assets, debts, attorneys’ fees, and most importantly, child custody, all play a role in divorce proceedings. In many cases, a divorce is not technically considered finalized until these details have been addressed, and this can be a time-consuming process depending on the variables involved. However, slow divorce proceedings can sometimes impact one spouse’s future plans.
A bifurcated divorce essentially grants the dissolution of the marriage before the other aspects of the divorce are resolved. This will allow the spouse who wishes to remarry to do so without any legal obligations to their former spouse. However, some states such as Arizona, New York, Michigan, and Texas do not allow bifurcated divorces. If you’re facing a divorce in the near future, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with your state’s divorce laws so you have an idea of what to expect and what options are available to you.
Reasons to Seek a Bifurcated Divorce
The most commonly cited reason for seeking a bifurcated divorce is the option to remarry sooner. If a couple must wait to remarry normally, divorce proceedings can sometimes last years until all the details have been handled. Some states that offer bifurcated divorces will still uphold a six month waiting period, but this is often a preferable alternative to waiting until all the details of the divorce are finalized.
Bifurcation can also sometimes help speed up the divorce proceedings in terms of division of property. One of the most time-consuming aspects of divorce is determining which community property belongs to which divorcing spouse. When couples opt for bifurcating, they essentially ask the court to acknowledge property status immediately. A clearer division of property will help the rest of the proceedings move along more quickly.
How to Bifurcate a Divorce
If you’re considering pursuing a bifurcated divorce, the first step should be to consult with your attorney before committing to any course of action. State laws vary greatly, and some restrictions may interfere with the process in several ways. First, you must determine whether or not bifurcation is an option in your area. Then, sit down with your attorney and discuss how your state’s bifurcation laws are going to affect the proceedings. If bifurcation is permissible in your state and there aren’t many complicating circumstances, obtaining a bifurcated divorce is often as simple as obtaining consent from the other spouse and filing several legal documents with the court.
It’s important to remember that bifurcation does not necessarily hinge on the other spouse’s willingness to bifurcate. You may be able to secure an exception to this requirement if you can prove that your request for bifurcation has solid, legal cause and won’t jeopardize the other spouse’s interests. However, if your spouse argues against your request to bifurcate with a compelling argument, the court will more than likely deny your petition to bifurcate.
Seeking Constructive Resolutions
Divorces are often tense situations, and emotions tend to flare up in the proceedings. Resentments can encourage spouses to be uncooperative in an attempt to get back for real or perceived slights, but an amicable divorce proceeds much more quickly. If the divorcing spouses are willing to work together to meet a mutually agreeable solution, it’s better for everyone involved.
Bifurcation may be a mutually agreeable option, but if one spouse seeks to stonewall the other’s request to bifurcate, there are alternatives. A mediator or arbitrator may help a divorcing couple reach a settlement much faster than a legal battle. This typically means less time wasted and less money spent on attorneys’ fees for all parties.