Separating the Divorce from Settling the Issues
Once spouses are firm in the intention to end a marriage, there is often a large amount of anxiety about finishing the process as quickly as possible so the relationship is officially severed. However, the issues of divorce do not always lend itself to a quick resolution if there are disagreements over how to settle matters. Divorcing couples can easily get hung up on the complicated issues of parenting, property division, and spousal support, forcing the parties to stretch out the dissolution until they are settled. These types of delays can last months, or even years in highly contested divorces, and spouses can feel like their lives are on hold until the case concludes. One option some couples may be able to use to at least legally end the marriage quickly, and leave the resolution of outstanding issues for another day, is bifurcated divorce. This procedure separates dissolving the marriage from issues so each spouse receives the ability to put that part of the process behind them and start to move forward. Actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt recently decided to bifurcate their divorce after disputing over parenting issues and child support for the last two and a half years. This route is not the normal path to divorce for most couples, but could offer a beneficial alternative to some spouses.
Why Choose Bifurcation?
As noted above, bifurcation is the separation of the divorce from the issues of divorce, which results in the court handling each part in distinct proceedings. This allows the court to issue the divorce but allow the couple more time to work through issues that are contested. This option may be preferable if the resolution of any matter is likely to be highly litigated and/or take a significant period of time. Further, it also allows either party to remarry in the interim if that is a concern or desire. Property division, especially if no prenuptial agreement is in place, is the issue that most frequently pushes one or both spouses to seek this alternative, because property division notifications, particularly if the assets are sizeable and complex, could take years to negotiate or litigate. However, note that requests to bifurcate are at the discretion of the judge, so there is no guarantee the court will grant it, though they are rarely denied. This does not mean consequences do not follow this decision, which should be contemplated before taking action.
The area in which the most consequences would follow from bifurcation is property division. The biggest issue a spouse could face is the potential loss of assets if the other spouse decides to sell them, though it would be in violation of court order. The realistic ability of retrieving the property is likely small, especially if it takes time to learn about the transaction. Further, if the parties abide by the court’s directives, their ability to control and dispose of their property is restricted until this matter is resolved, which can cause financial losses. One spouse could also face the loss of health insurance coverage, and the death of either spouse before outstanding matters are settled could very easily result in the surviving spouse receiving a smaller share of the estate than he/she would have received as part of a property settlement. Finally, undesirable tax consequences could follow for the spouse with fewer financial resources, so care must be taken to evaluate this issue before moving forward.
Speak to a Florida Divorce Attorney
Finding common ground in divorce is not easy for many couples, and positions may be far apart. If you have questions about settling your divorce, talk to the experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorneys at the office of Joyce A Julian, P.A. about various options. There are often choices in divorce to make the process easier, and our Fort Lauderdale divorce firm can help you find the process that works best for your situation. Contact us for a free consultation.