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2012: What is a Bifurcation of Legal Status in a Divorce and how is This Obtained in San Diego Superior Court?

In a divorce in San Diego, the legal status of the spouses [married] can be terminated before the remainder of the issues are decided such as custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, division of assets, division of debts and/or attorney fees. Since some cases may take more than six months, or sometimes several years, one or both of the spouses may want to terminate their legal status from “married” to “single” for many reasons: reason to remarry; psychological to move on with their life and others. There is a procedure in a divorce in San Diego Superior Court called a “bifurcation” of the legal status which means to separate the legal status from the remaining issues in the case. If both spouses agree to the bifurcation, then a written agreement [judgment] can be prepared and sent to the San Diego Superior Court and it is possible that a court hearing may be avoided in this way.

In order to proceed to a granting of bifurcation, there must be compliance with the mandatory requirement of the proof of service of the preliminary declaration of disclosure. The preliminary declaration is comprised of two pleadings: income and expense declaration and schedule of assets and debts. The income and expense declaration must have the mandatory attachments which can include pay stubs, tax returns, profit and loss statements and others. Each is individual and needs to be completed and accurate. The schedule of assets and debts lists all assets and debts of the community including community property, separate property and quasi community property. There is a pleading for the service of the preliminary declaration of disclosure as well as the proof of service of the preliminary declaration of disclosure.

The San Diego Superior Court Judge can require, in order to grant the bifurcation, for the following to be imposed: hold the other spouse harmless from any taxes incurred for any property division that would not have otherwise been incurred if the spouses were still married at the time of the property division; maintain any existing medical and/or health insurance coverage for the other party and their minor children which would have been covered under insurance if still married and existing; hold harmless the other spouse if there is a loss of rights to the probate family allowance as the surviving spouse; hold the other spouse harmless from any consequences which are adverse as to retirement rights, survivor benefits and rights or any deferred compensation and the same with any social security benefits. The Judge could also impose other conditions.

If you are interested in hiring an attorney or lawyer to represent you in your pending divorce in San Diego County, please feel free to contact us for a consultation.

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