Bifurcated Divorce: What Does It Mean?
There is no doubt that at times attorneys seem to speak their own language; in fact, the Merriam Webster dictionary even recognizes “legalese” as a definable word.
A classic example of this special language we tend to use at times is the term “bifurcated divorce decree”. Defined, bifurcate means to divide into two parts. In the legal world, we use the term to describe a divorce in which the final decree is entered before all economic issues have been resolved. These economic issues could include matters such as property rights, alimony payments or attorneys’ fees and costs. They do not cover issues related to child custody and child support since in Pennsylvania those matters are resolved separately.
A bifurcated divorce is possible under two primary circumstances:
- If both parties agree to bifurcation in order to finalize the divorce before all economic matters are resolved.
- If one party is able to demonstrate compelling circumstances for the bifurcated divorce, such as consideration of terminal illness, estate planning or tax considerations; and that grounds can be firmly established for divorce, such as there is demonstrated proof that the couple has been living separate and apart for two years, or fault grounds for divorce have been established.
Bifurcated divorce ensures that the court retains jurisdiction over the final resolution of your case even before all the final economic details have been resolved. It allows clients to move forward with their lives knowing that the court has the final decision-making authority.
If you are considering divorce, or are in the midst of a divorce that is dragging on with no sign of resolution, please contact us. Every marriage—and every divorce—is different. Bifurcated divorce is not an option for everyone, but it can be a workable option for some. Although some people assume divorce can be a DIY project, employing the expertise of experienced legal counsel can actually save time and money, if not additional heartache. Call us today.