Can You Get Divorced Before Separating Property?

By Michael Butler

In most divorce cases, there are more issues to settle than just the divorce itself, such as custody and separation of property. In contentious divorces, these issues can drag on for months at a time. In some states, you can get divorced and leave other matters until a later date, through the bifurcation process.

In most divorce cases, there are more issues to settle than just the divorce itself, such as custody and separation of property. In contentious divorces, these issues can drag on for months at a time. In some states, you can get divorced and leave other matters until a later date, through the bifurcation process.

Bifurcation

Bifurcation is a legal process by which a judge issues an order of divorce and explicitly leaves all other issues between the parties open. The fact of divorce is final, subject to any appellate rights in the state. The rest of the case, however, is left open and the parties, or their attorneys, will have to return to court to finalize any property settlements. Bifurcation does not mean that the parties can take as long as they want to finalize other issues. Judges generally issue orders that include specific dates by which the other issues will be brought to a final conclusion.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

State Law

In the United States, marriage and divorce are almost exclusively a matter of state law. The states do not agree on the subject of bifurcation. In Kansas and California, bifurcation is a matter of routine. However, Texas and New York almost never allow it. Other states fall somewhere in between the extremes. You might find the rules for bifurcation in your state's divorce code. However, the rules are often determined by judges, so you may need to check court rules and appellate decisions. The best way to find out if bifurcation is allowed in your state is to ask a family law attorney licensed in the state.

Advantages of Bifurcation

If one party to the divorce does not want to get divorced at all, he may seek to intentionally drag out any property settlement as long as possible. Bifurcating the divorce might stop that party from refusing to move on with the case. In cases where the parties have not been a couple for a long time, bifurcation allows them to remarry sooner. If the wife is pregnant, and the parties agree that the husband is not the father, bifurcation can prevent the presumption of spousal paternity from attaching when the child is born.

Disadvantages of Bifurcation

The primary thing that most people want out of a divorce is the divorce itself. For some people, bifurcation might remove their incentive to finalize other matters, including property separation. If a home needs to be assigned to one of the parties and sold, bifurcation might delay the process into a downturn in the real estate market. If the couple is in debt and considering filing for bankruptcy, bifurcation prevents the filing of a joint bankruptcy, which may have implications in settling their debt.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Meaning of Bifurcation in Divorce

References

Related articles

How to Divide a House in a Divorce

In many marriages, the family home is the couple's most significant asset. For this reason, real estate often factors prominently in divorce cases. Because it is unrealistic for the parties to continue living in the same residence after their marriage has ended, dividing the marital home is one of the biggest considerations in divorce settlement.

Indiana Laws for Separation Before Divorce

Indiana law provides couples with two options if they want to end or change their marital relationship: dissolution of marriage, which is a divorce, or legal separation. A dissolution of marriage officially ends a marriage, while a legally separation simply allows the couple to live apart for a specified amount of time to decide whether they want to save the marriage or divorce. Before seeking a legal separation, it’s essential to know the rights and responsibilities of each party.

Tennessee Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation -- individuals living together outside marriage -- is a growing trend in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 500,000 couples cohabited in 1970, while that the number rose to 5.5 million in 2000. Although cohabitation was illegal in many states in America in the 20th century, there are only a small number of holdouts at the time of publication. There is no prohibition against cohabitation in Tennessee. A cohabitation agreement doesn't give you the same rights as married people, but it can assist you in many ways whether you stay together or end your relationship.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Advantages of Divorce Bifurcation in California

In most states, divorce can only be completed once agreement has been reached on all the associated issues, such as ...

What Does the Word Divested Mean in a Divorce Decree?

"Divested" is a legal term that means relinquished or dispossessed. The term usually refers to a surrender or ...

What Prolongs a Divorce?

When a couple mutually agrees to divorce and can reach a joint settlement outside of court, divorce can be a quick ...

How to Change the Title as Joint Tenants in a Divorce

In a divorce, all property owned jointly is typically divided. If you own real estate as joint tenants, one of you will ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED