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Bifurcation

Each and every divorce case is different and is made up of various components. A Del Mar divorce may include issues such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, and property division. Particular aspects of a case, such property division, tend to take longer to resolve than others. At the Law Offices of Nancy J. Bickford we recognize that each client has individual needs, which may require his or her case to be separated into two or more components. Bifurcation is a process governed by California Family Code section 2337 that divides a case into two or more parts.

There are two types of bifurcation that can be utilized in a San Diego divorce. First, marital status can be bifurcated from the rest of the case. This allows the parties to terminate their marital status quickly and move on from the marriage. However, the parties can take their time dividing up the marital estate and litigating issues such as child custody and visitation, spousal support, and child support. Second, key issues in the case can be bifurcated and separately adjudicated. The court may hold a mini-trial on one issue because it has potential to affect many other aspects of the case.

Under California Family Code section 2337, “in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court, upon noticed motion, may sever and grant an early and separate trial on an issue of the dissolution of the status of the marriage apart from other issues.” According to the code, the party requesting bifurcation shall serve a preliminary declaration of disclosure with a completed schedule of assets and debts. This means that there must be full disclosure of all possible liabilities and assets so that both parties can make informed decisions.

The court may impose the following conditions on bifurcating the issue of marital status from the rest of the case: (1) husband and wife shall hold each other harmless of any taxes or other penalties resulting from the termination of the marital status that would not have been payable had the parties been married at the time the division was made, (2) until judgment has been entered on all remaining issues and has become final, a party is required to maintain all existing medical and health insurance coverage for the other spouse and/or named dependents, so long as he or she is eligible to do so, and (3) husband and wife shall hold each other harmless from any adverse consequences if the bifurcation results in the loss of rights to social security benefits; retirement, survivor, or deferred compensation benefits; or the loss of the rights to a probate family allowance as the surviving spouse.

If you are interested in obtaining a divorce or legal separation from your spouse we can provide you with information and guide you through your options. Our team of experienced attorneys is prepared to litigate on your behalf.

If you wish to schedule a consultation with Nancy J. Bickford, call us at (858) 793-8884.