What Does Bifurcation Mean in a Divorce?

Bifurcation isn’t exactly a word that is used routinely. Let’s be honest, most people have not taken years of Latin. No matter how well read we may think we are words like “bifurcation” don’t easily roll off the tongue. To most lay people legal terms are akin to a foreign language.

Bifurcation is defined as the act of “separating into two parts or branches.” In a divorce case this equates to separating a single case into separate and distinct actions. In most cases this relates specifically to child support, child custody, and child visitation issues.

A good example of how bifurcation can play out in a divorce is through state and court. If a divorce starts in one state, but ultimately moves to another, the case is essentially being heard in different courts in different states. This can happen if one of the soon-to-be former spouses opts to establish residence in a new state during the divorce.

This scenario is not beneficial in any way to either parties involved, and in fact only seems to assist in draining money from both individual’s pockets. By bifurcating most cases, the litigants spend more time in court, less time with their families, more money is spent on lawyers and court fees, and in the end there are just more decisions and rules that have to be followed.

The best way to avoid bifurcation during divorce is for both parties to work out their issues outside of court with the goal of improving the co-parenting relationship. If that is not possible, the parties can meet with a mediator. In bifurcation, courts are self-serving.

Think about this, wouldn’t you rather take the time and money you could be wasting on court appearances and fees and instead use it for some quality time with your children?

By Ron Lasorsa