Bifurcation & Divorce
Kelly Clarkson has been in the news for seeking a bifurcation in her divorce. But what does it mean to bifurcate your divorce? We’ve told you before that prenups aren’t just for celebrities — is bifurcation something that you should consider?
What is Bifurcation?
Bifurcation allows a court to divide a trial into two parts so the judge can decide some legal issues without deciding all legal issues.
Not all states allow bifurcation in divorce, but Connecticut does. Under Connecticut General Statutes § 52-205: “In all cases, whether entered upon the docket as jury cases or court cases, the court may order that one or more of the issues joined be tried before the others.”
What’s an Example of Bifurcation in a Divorce?
Bifurcation allows the judge to finalize some issues without addressing all issues. For example, the judge may order the divorce (leaving the parties single and free to remarry) before ruling on property division, child custody, or alimony. In another example, the court could order the divorce and enter agreements the parties reached on property division and alimony, and leave other aspects like custody and child support, to be finalized after dissolution. The outstanding issues are not considered post-judgment even though the court rules on them after the parties are technically divorced. Rather, bifurcation means the court splits the divorce into two parts and decides some issues before others.
When Do Divorce Attorneys Use Bifurcation?
Bifurcation is relatively uncommon. In most cases, spouses reach agreements on all issues in their divorce at once. Your divorce attorney is most likely to recommend filing a Motion to Bifurcate in divorce litigation — it is very rare in a mediation or collaborative divorce. Additionally, bifurcation is more likely in high-conflict litigation where the parties are unable to reach agreements outside of court.
The key takeaway is that choosing to bifurcate is highly fact-specific and also depends on your goals and your attorney’s legal strategy to accomplish those goals. In other words: talk to your lawyer.
Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals for your life. Once we discover your goals for your life, we are able to build a divorce customized for you.