Even though California is a “no fault” divorce state, it can still take some time before a divorce is finalized. It takes at least six months for a divorce to become final, and that’s with a mutual agreement. If the divorce is contested, it could take several years for a divorce to become final. There is a way to speed up the divorce process through something called bifurcation.
What is Bifurcation?
A bifurcation is a legal decision made by the court that allows a couple that is divorcing to become considered single again while they are waiting for their divorce to become final.
How is Bifurcation Done?
The spouse that wants to separate the marital status must make a request for a trial on the sole issue of the marital status. However, there is one mandatory requirement for bifurcation. A request to separate the marital status cannot be made until after six months have passed from the date that the other spouse, the one not seeking a divorce, was served with divorce papers.
Reasons Bifurcation is Granted
There are two main reasons that a judge will grant a request for bifurcation:
- If one or both parties are remarrying, or
- If one or both parties wants to file as a single person for their taxes.
As long as the marriage is dissolved by the end of the calendar year, one or both parties can file their tax returns as a single person.
Other conditions must also be met for bifurcation and even if it is granted, these conditions may still need to be met.
- If one of the spouses maintains medical insurance for both parties, he or she must continue to do so or find a comparable insurance policy or pay for any medical bills that are incurred.
- If either spouse has a retirement plan through an employer, the other spouse must receive indemnification for losing death benefits.
- The opposing party must be paid for any tax consequences or loss because they are unable to claim probate homestead or family allowance.
If you or someone you know is looking into the best process to legally ending a marriage contact the Law Office of Anne Dowden Saxton today for a free consultation.