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Is a San Diego Bifurcated Divorce for You?

Some states allow a divorce to be bifurcated or completed in two parts. Bifurcation of a divorce is allowed in California under the California Family Code and is used in San Diego Superior Courts in many instances. Bifurcation can be a trial, for example, on the date of separation. Bifurcation can also be separation of other issues but is most commonly used in San Diego for termination of marital status and restoring spouses to the legal standard of single and unmarried when there are remaining issues still pending in the divorce such as division of debt, division of assets, spousal support, child support, visitation, custody and other issues. Bifurcation has advantages in certain cases, and they are described on this page.


A bifurcated divorce is an ideal solution for a couple when one or the other, or both, want to remarry. California applies a mandatory waiting period from the time a divorce is filed and served or when a response is filed which is 180 days minimum. If the divorce is contested, or if there are other contentious issues like settlement of property, the divorce may take years to complete in the normal course. But if there is a pressing necessity, a couple could make an application for bifurcation immediately after the six month period is over. Bifurcation could be granted as early as weeks or months from the time of the application, enabling the party which wants to remarry to do so within a year from filing for divorce.

Tax Benefits

Bifurcation allows one party to file his/her federal tax return as a single entity. This complies with the IRS rules which allow a person to file with single status if a divorce is granted up to the 31st of December of that calendar year. Filing as a single person may provide a significant tax benefit to a spouse paying spousal or child support. If one files as a single person, support payments are 100% tax deductible. The recipient however is liable to pay taxes on any support received. Also, if one files as a single person then tax deductions need not be shared. This can be a complicated analysis and a CPA may need to be consulted as to the advantages and disadvantages of remaining married and filing jointly or terminating the marital status and filing as single and unmarried.

Negating Bargaining Advantages

California law supports bifurcation of the marital status. Provided there is not any particular or compelling reason not to bifurcate, a California judge can grant bifurcation upon request. There are many requirements which must be met in order for this to occur but it is possible and does happen. This enables a couple to resolve their marital status prior to resolving other issues liable to be combative or expensive. It also prevents one party from holding the marriage as ransom in an effort to secure a more advantageous settlement. For instance, if a woman wants to expedite a change of marital status to enable her to remarry, her erstwhile husband could raise contentious disputes that the mandatory requirements under the Family Law Code have not been met so as to protract negotiations and force the woman to concede. In a bifurcated divorce the woman could remarry and then tackle the unfinished issues so removing any leverage her husband might have had. In many cases, bifurcation may speed up the resolution involving difficult issues.

Bifurcating Issues

California courts also bifurcates some divorce issues into two parts. This invariably saves time and cost and the court may not have to rule on the latter part of some of the cases. For example, a couple may agree on custody, visitation arrangements, and property distribution but might not be able to reach an agreement on an alimony plan or child support. The couple could request a bifurcated settlement which will grant a divorce to change their marital status, and seek trial at a subsequent date on the issues yet to be resolved. As above, there may be many reasons for bifurcation of different issues to make the resolution of the case the most expedient and efficient.

Every Minute May Count

Family law attorneys at the law firm of Doppelt and Forney, APLC offer legal services in divorce cases and other related issues such as child custody, visitation rights, and spousal support. The firm offers initial virtual consultation free of charge for up to 30 minutes during which time you can discuss various aspects of divorce and determine whether a bifurcated divorce is the solution for you.

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