Crystal Wright | August 10, 2023 | Divorce
An ordinary divorce is not final until all outstanding issues, such as property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support, have been resolved. A bifurcated divorce is, by contrast, a two-part divorce.
Part 1 is the formal divorce itself, which occurs quickly. Part 2 involves financial and other related matters. This system works for people who have reasons to want to divorce quickly, but who might also have complex financial or custody matters to resolve. Bifurcated divorces are not particularly common in Georgia.
The Legal Status of Bifurcated Divorce in Georgia
Every state applies its own divorce law, and Georgia is no exception. Georgia law does not mention bifurcated divorce one way or the other, either in state statutes or in case law. In practice, however, you can get a bifurcated divorce in Georgia if you file a motion for it and the court approves that motion.
The court is under no obligation to grant the motion, and there is nothing you can do that will obligate a court to grant one. Many Georgia courts are reluctant to grant motions for bifurcated divorce.
Reasons Why You Might Want a Bifurcated Divorce
Bifurcated divorce is not for everyone. Below is a list that covers most of the reasons why some people choose to bifurcate their divorce.
- You or your spouse wants to marry someone else. You cannot marry in the State of Georgia while you are still legally married to someone else. In fact, it is a felony called bigamy, punishable by one to ten years in state prison.
- Your divorce has been pending for quite some time. Both spouses want a divorce, but property division, child custody, child support, and/or alimony issues have not yet been resolved.
- Tax reasons. You might want to file your IRS tax returns as “Single” or “Head of Household” instead of “Married.”
There are a number of other possible reasons to seek a bifurcated divorce, some of which are personal to the spouse who is seeking this arrangement.
Reasons Why You Might Not Want a Bifurcated Divorce
There are two main reasons why some people are reluctant to seek bifurcated divorce, or believe that it should not be legal:
- If one of the spouses remarries after Part 1 but before Part 2 is complete, does that constitute bigamy? Probably not, but there is a very good argument that this kind of marriage operates in a murky gray zone of Georgia divorce law.
- Bifurcating a divorce can delay the final resolution of ancillary issues such as property division and child support. In a worst-case scenario, this approach can lead to greatly increased overall expenditures and even bankruptcy.
Consider all angles before you make the decision to bifurcate your divorce.
Is a Consensus Between the Spouses Required?
Do both spouses have to agree to a bifurcated divorce for a court to agree to handle it that way? The short answer is not necessarily, but it helps.
Perhaps the most common reason for non-consensual bifurcated divorces is the desire of one spouse to remarry over the objections of the other spouse. Family courts could look at this issue in different ways.
Procedures Involved in a Bifurcated Divorce
The procedure for a bifurcated divorce is relatively simple, although it can vary slightly from court to court. First, file a Petition for Divorce in the appropriate Superior Court if you have not already done so.
Second, file a motion for a bifurcated divorce. If the court issues a particular form for a bifurcated divorce, use it instead (ask the court clerk about this). You can file both the Petition for Divorce and the motion for a bifurcated divorce simultaneously.
Do You Need a Lawrenceville Family Lawyer?
If your finances are complex enough for a bifurcated divorce to benefit you, then you probably need a Georgia family lawyer to represent you.
Indeed, considering the important issues that a divorce must resolve, it probably makes sense to hire a lawyer, even for an ordinary divorce. Talk to a family lawyer to find out how they can help you.
Contact the Divorce Lawyers at Crystal Wright Law To Get Legal Assistance Today
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.