Thursday, August 11, 2011

Divorce Advice:#2

This is the 2nd in a series of divorce advice posts that I plan to do every Thursday until I run out of useful things to say on the subject....could go on for a month or two....or not.

Bifurcation sounds a little like amputation. Consider it just as carefully. Maybe there are other options.

California defines bifurcation like this:
It can take many months, even several years, for a dissolution to wind its way through the courts. Faced with this fact, many spouses want to terminate the marriage quickly, even if the other issues in the case have not been settled. There might also be situations in which it makes sense to have a separate trial of a particular issue. In both of those situations, the court will order that the trial is to be “bifurcated.” This means either that the marital status is terminated and the parties are restored to their single status or a separate trial is to be held concerning a specific issue.

Let me clarify. It means that the marriage is dissolved and the final decree of divorce is issued, but the financial settlement can go on and on and on. In other words, the dissolution of the marriage and the financial settlement are cleaved into two separate processes. This could be the greatest thing since the Ginsu knife if you're the one who wants to rush off and get married to your new true love. If that's not you, then by agreeing to bifurcation, you may be giving the go-ahead for your ex to remarry while  you stand at the altar of financial uncertainty. While you are waiting for the joint assets to be divided, a couple of things are likely to happen:
1) You will be paying attorney bills every month
2) Your  ex will be in a honeymoon state of mind, perhaps starting a new family, moving, trying to pay off the charge card for the wedding expenses, and he will have zero motivation to settle his finances with you.

So if  you have not been able to initiate the IDEAL DIVORCE, and your attorney is now doing what you've hired him or her to do, have a discussion about bifurcation. Imagine that the ex and and the new true love have set a date, put a deposit on the venue and the caterer, hired the photographer, and are discussing the pros and cons of a cupcake bar.  If there's no bifurcation, that's some pretty serious motivation to complete all aspects of the divorce unless polygamy is legal where you live.

Bifurcation is commonly favored and approved by the courts in California. Some states do not allow bifurcation. There's a lot of free information on the Internet appropriate to each state. Educate yourself. Bifurcation might be a "state" you don't want to find yourself in because you could be there for years waiting to cross the border. A discussion of bifurcation and its implications might be an appropriate topic as you choose an attorney to represent you.

My divorce advice disclaimer: I am not an attorney, a paralegal, or a legal secretary. Nor do I possess any legal education or credentials of any kind other than having been married to an attorney for three decades and immediately thereafter involved in divorcing him for the next four years. My advice is based solely on my own experience and falls under the broader life heading of Damn It,  If Only I'd Known Then What I Know Now.

Title for this Thursday venture, anyone?  "It's Turdsday: Shit I've Learned About Divorce?" Surely there's someone more refined than I out there with a catchy phrase waiting to be put to good use.


Elizabeth said...

Holy crapola. I'm going to think about it a bit, but I'm liking your tentative title already. And your disclaimer is actually the best part of the post!

Anonymous said...

It doesn't sound like a good idea at all.

Photocat said...

Informing yourself is definitely the good thing to do. And do under no circumstance take the same layer as the future Ex. You will get screwed. Oops. I need to watch my language, it's not my blog...
You will get through this and I promise you that on a certain day in the future you will notice that you are happier then when still married. Time to live now!