Bifurcating a divorce was not well known until celebrity couples have used the option in recent years. Toward the end of 2021, Kim Kardashian West has filed court documents asking for her to be declared legally single while negotiating other pending divorce issues. Two years earlier, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were declared legally single in 2019. The couple split in 2016 and have yet to finalize all aspects of their divorce.
Separating marital status from other divorce issues – bifurcation – is possible in North Carolina. The legal maneuver has advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Divorce Bifurcation
Bifurcation means that both parties in a divorce can legally divide their divorce into two stages. One part of bifurcation declares both parties legally single. Contentious issues like child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support can be finalized at a later date.
Reasons to consider a bifurcated divorce include the following:
- One spouse is seeking to remarry.
- One spouse is using divorce matters as emotional blackmail.
- One spouse files for bankruptcy, which stops the divorce case until the bankruptcy is finalized.
- Being able to file tax returns as single individuals can be advantageous for some couples.
No specific circumstances are required to bifurcate a North Carolina divorce. If you wonder whether a bifurcated divorce is right for you, consult with one of our skilled attorneys at Jetton & Meredith, PLLC.
Disadvantages of Divorce Bifurcation
Not all states allow couples to become single before settling all disputes in their divorce case. Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and Texas are among the states that don’t. North Carolina does allow bifurcated divorces. Each divorce matter can be considered separately.
At first glance, bifurcation seems to be a good solution, particularly for couples that are in protracted disputes about dividing property or a business, child custody, or other issues.
Couples should know there are disadvantages including the following:
- The former couple could incur more legal bills by protracting out the divorce process.
- Some of the incentives to resolve differences quickly are eliminated.
- One spouse can delay financial discovery matters.
- A final settlement could take much longer.
- A longer process can be emotionally draining.
- You can’t fully move forward because you stay in communication with your ex until all matters are determined.
Outstanding Divorce Matters Can Be Mediated
Once spouses are declared single, they can negotiate the outstanding matters with the help of their attorneys. Divorce mediation and arbitration are also options to reach an agreement. These techniques can help former spouses come to compromises and settle their disputes without having to go before a judge. Mediation gives the spouses control in determining the final agreement. In arbitration, a neutral arbitrator acts similarly to a judge. After hearing testimony and reviewing evidence, the arbitrator makes a binding decision, subject to court approval.
Both mediation and arbitration tend to be less time-consuming than litigation.
Knowledgeable Legal Counsel for Charlotte Divorces
Choosing to divorce is one of the most difficult decisions anyone faces. At Jetton & Meredith, PLLC, we understand the emotions involved in each aspect of dissolving a marriage. We pair our compassion with practical and actionable advice that puts our clients’ best interests first.
Our goal is to resolve divorce issues as quickly as possible. We aim to provide a foundation to help our clients begin again.
If you are considering divorce, schedule a free initial consultation with us. We can provide an overview of your options based on your situation. Contact us online or call (704) 931-5535.