Going through the divorce process can be financially and emotionally challenging. The divorce process can also take significant time, leading many North Carolina residents to pursue a bifurcated divorce. You may have concerns that your divorce will take many months, if not years, to finalize due to issues like child custody or support, and property distribution.  In this case, pursuing a bifurcated divorce could be your best option.

In a bifurcated divorce, a judge would legally finalize your divorce before you have finished negotiating all the outstanding issues in your divorce settlement. If you want to finalize your divorce quickly while pursuing a fair settlement agreement, the bifurcation divorce attorneys at Greene Wilson Crow & Smith are here to help. Contact Greene Wilson Crow & Smith to learn more about our Legal Services.

What Is Bifurcated Divorce?

When issues in a divorce are especially contentious, divorce cases can continue unresolved for a significant amount of time. Some divorce cases can even take years to finalize. Many individuals seeking divorce do not want to wait months or years before receiving a legal divorce decree. The divorce process can take a long time to finalize because the couple must have a comprehensive settlement or agreement in place that addresses the following issues:

  • How their debt and assets will be divided
  • How joining financial accounts will be divided
  • Who will own the family home after the divorce
  • Whether one spouse must pay alimony or spousal support
  • Child custody matters

Resolving these issues can be difficult, especially when the couple owns significant or complex assets. When the couple cannot come to an agreement on these issues out of court, they will need to go to trial, and the court will ultimately decide on the terms of the divorce settlement, which can be a lengthy process.

When one or both parties have the desire to get the legal divorce process done as quickly as possible, they can pursue a bifurcated divorce. The word bifurcation means to divide or split up. In a bifurcated divorce, the divorce itself is divided into issues surrounding the divorce, such as child custody or property division issues. In a bifurcated divorce, the court agrees to the marriage first and reserves outstanding issues to be resolved by the parties later.

Is a Bifurcated Divorce Right for Me?

A bifurcated divorce can be beneficial for parties who need to obtain a final divorce decree. For example, if one or both parties would like to remarry, they may not want to wait years for their divorce to be resolved before they can remarry. Pursuing a bifurcated divorce allows full spouses to receive the divorce decree, allowing them to remarry. Other reasons for pursuing a bifurcated divorce include pursuing the tax benefits of a divorce. 

There are also some potential downsides to consider. You will still need to negotiate all unresolved issues to finalize your divorce settlement. If you cannot agree with the other party, the court will need to decide for you. When both spouses have a divorce decree, the motivation to finalize the divorce settlement could decrease, and the negotiation process could drag on even longer. The end of a marriage can be difficult, even under the best circumstances. Dragging out the financial aspect of the settlement while finalizing the legal status of the marriage through a divorce may only prolong the inevitable. 

Pursuing a bifurcated divorce may not provide the clean break both parties are seeking because the process does not allow for a clean break. Litigation may still be necessary to finalize the divorce settlement. A bifurcated divorce could end up being more costly and time-consuming. The best way to determine whether a bifurcated divorce is the best option to meet your goals is to discuss your case with a skilled attorney who can explain the pros and cons of each type of divorce in North Carolina. 

The Tax Benefits of a Bifurcated Divorce

Many couples pursue a bifurcated divorce to take advantage of the significant tax benefits. Suppose your divorce is ongoing when your taxes are due. In that case, you will still have to file as “married, filing separately.” However, if your divorce has been legally finalized through a bifurcated divorce, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can file as “single” on your taxes. If you earn significantly more than the other or own a business, filing as a single filer may decrease your overall tax liability.

Preventing Delays 

In some divorce cases, one party may unnecessarily attempt to delay the divorce proceedings. When there are significant disagreements about the divorce settlement terms or the party relationship is highly contentious, multiple delays could prevent both parties from moving on. Finalizing the legal divorce allows both parties to move on with their lives without significant delays that prohibit the court from granting their divorce petition. 

Domestic Violence and Trauma 

A bifurcated divorce could be beneficial when one spouse has undergone emotional abuse, infidelity, domestic violence, or any other type of abuse or mistreatment during the marriage. When there is a legal divorce decree, the spouse who has undergone abuse can seek additional protections related to domestic violence. Some victims of domestic violence may understandably be willing to forgo their rights in a divorce settlement to finalize the divorce more quickly and get out of an unsafe marriage. Using a bifurcation divorce strategy can help victims obtain a fair divorce settlement without having to stay legally married to an abusive spouse.

Contact Our Experienced New Bern Family Law Attorneys

At Greene Wilson Crow & Smith, our family law attorneys are dedicated to protecting our client’s rights throughout North Carolina. We’ve helped many clients pursue a bifurcated divorce to obtain a final divorce decree without negotiating every aspect of their divorce settlement. If you think a bifurcated divorce may be right for you, we recommend contacting an attorney to discuss your options. One of our skilled attorneys can review your case and help you understand your options, including a simple divorce, a collaborative divorce, and a bifurcated divorce. Contact Greene Wilson Crow & Smith to schedule a free case evaluation.