Love Lawyer on Bifurcation

Question from Lilly M.- Decatur, Illinois

I saw that one of  the celebrities requested a “bifurcation” of his divorce. My spouse just asked for a bifurcation too. What is a bifurcation and will the Judge grant it?

LOVE LAWYER ANSWER:

The issue typically arises where one spouse wants to remarry and the divorce has not been completed. The most notorious example was Kelsey Grammer’s recent request for bifurcation because he could not wait to marry his new bride, Kayte Walsh.  A bifurcated divorce is one in which the marriage is terminated by the court and you are divorced. However, the issues concerning property division and values, custody, support and maintenance are decided at a later date. 

The decision to bifurcate is completely up to the discretion of the Judge in the case. In Illinois, they are typically disfavored by Judges unless there is a compelling reason for such a request. This is especially true when both spouses are before the court. Judges want the entire case to be completed and off their docket. They also want to adjudicate child related issues in an expedited manner. Bifurcation also tends to significantly increase the attorneys’ fees and costs in the case. The other logistical problem with bifurcation is valuing assets. The date of the divorce is the date used for valuation purposes. So if you are divorced and must later value the accounts and assets as of an earlier date, the process of valuation will be more tenuous.

 

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