Divorces could take years and in California, at least six months minimum would be required. If you want or need to get divorced sooner, there is a Motion for Bifurcation in which a party asks the court to terminate the marriage and restore each spouse to their single status.
In some situations, the parties’ or the judge may order a trial to be bifurcated (an issue is “tried” separately). For example, if there is no agreement on, the court may require that legal and physical custody be determined immediately and separate these issues from the rest of the divorce case.
As for getting the divorce sooner—as noted above, six months minimum is required in California from the filing of the Petition to the status of being single (being divorced). Even with a bifurcation, you cannot divorce any sooner than six months after your separation date.
Why do this? One of the most prevalent reasons are that one or both of the spouses are remarrying or if one or both of the spouses wants to file as a single person on their taxes. If your divorce case has been open for a significant period of time and no resolution seems to be near, filing for a bifurcation of marital status will allow you to return to your status as a single person but it will not resolve all the other issues that are still contested in your divorce.
For a spouse who is paying any kind of support (child or spousal) this is beneficial. The support is 100% deductible on income taxes, but only if you are filing as a single person and the person receiving the support must then list the payments as income on their taxes.
Even if the request is granted, you or your spouse may still need to meet certain conditions:
- If one spouse maintains medical insurance, he/she must continue to do so;
- If either spouse has a pension plan through their employer, the other spouse receives indemnification for the loss of death benefits;
- The opposing party must be reimbursed for any tax consequences of the loss of the right to claim probate homestead or family allowance.
If you want to take advantage of a bifurcation, be sure to file the necessary paperwork as early in the year as possible and no later than November 15, of that year.
Additionally, before you can file this motion, a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure consists of serving a completed Schedule of Assets and Debts and Income and Expense Declaration on your spouse.
The effects of a bifurcation are that your marital status will be terminated, you can remarry without having to wait for a final judgment on the remaining issues, your name can be restored to your maiden name, and you will be able to file your income taxes as single or head of household.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to call my office at 310-601-7144 or email me at [email protected].
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