Why Request Divorce Bifurcation
There are many different types of motions that a party can file in a divorce case. A Motion for divorce bifurcation asks the judge to terminate your marital status. Once the court grants bifurcation, the court can terminate the marriage, making each party “single.” As a result, spouses wishing to remarry or file “single” on their taxes often request divorce bifurcation. Tax laws allow a person to file as “single” so long as the marriage status terminates before the end of the year. With this intention, since divorce can take a long time in California, divorce bifurcation allows both spouses to quickly move on with their lives.
How to File a Motion for Bifurcation
As mentioned above, a Motion for Bifurcation asks the judge to terminate your marital status. Couples must wait six months after the service of the divorce petition on the respondent before making a request to file for divorce bifurcation. Before submitting the motion, it is critical that you complete the mandatory preliminary and final disclosures. These documents address:
- financial assets (community and separate property)
- financial debts (community and separate property)
The parties disclose this information by preparing and serving a signed Declaration of Disclosure on the other. After you serve your disclosures on your spouse, you can file a Declaration with the court confirming this required step is done.
Requirements for Divorce Bifurcation
Once you file your motion for bifurcation, the court will set a hearing to review your case. If you meet certain requirements, the court will grant your motion. In most cases, you must:
- continue to maintain medical insurance for your spouse
- continue to provide indemnification for the loss of death benefits if you have a pension
- reimburse your spouse for tax consequences or the loss to claim family allowance or homestead in probate
Suffice to say, it isn’t difficult to satisfy these requirements, but showing that you meet them can be hard. If you cannot show you have kept your side of the agreement, the court may deny your motion. In other words, if you are not able to demonstrate you have kept your side of the agreement, the court may deny your request for bifurcation.
Issues Still Under Litigation
Even after you are officially “single” in the eyes of the IRS, keep in mind your divorce is not complete regarding all potential legal obligations. Remember, you may have remaining issues to litigate such as child support, child custody or spousal support. In addition, you may also have to agree on the division of assets and debts or retirement. Even if you remarry after the divorce bifurcation, the court still needs to review and decide on the remaining issues before you can complete the divorce process.
Most people seek a bifurcation if their divorce is taking an unreasonable amount of time to resolve. Contact A People’s Choice for more information about how to file a Motion for Bifurcation in your California divorce. We can help you draft the motion, file it with the court, get the hearing set and prepare a proposed order for the judge to sign. Lastly, once the court grants the bifurcation, we can help prepare the necessary judgment papers to return the parties to “single” status. Call us today at 805-648-5540.