What is a Bifurcated Divorce?

Kelly Dodd, Housewife No More

Real Housewives of Orange County star Kelly Dodd has revealed that she wants a divorce from her husband of 11 years, Michael Dodd.

Dodd's relationship with her husband has been rocky and tumultuous for several years, with Dodd previously filing for divorce in 2012. Soon after however, the couple rekindled their love and were on fairly good terms.

Now, Dodd says their marriage is over and she's "had enough." She added, "I filed for divorce against Michael in 2012 and we never had any resolution the case is just sitting there. So I’m going to ask my attorney to file a motion so I can get a bifurcated divorce."

Reasons for a Bifurcated Divorce

A bifurcation of divorce may be requested for a variety of reasons. For both spouses, there may be several benefits that come along with these reasons. It is good practice to evaluate the benefits and consequences before requesting a bifurcation of divorce. You may want to consider bifurcating your marriage if one of the following reasons applies to you:

  • In lieu of filing as a married person, you want to file as "Single" or "Head of Household."
  • In your divorce case, there has not been a resolution regarding child custody, child visitation, support, or property division for an extended period of time. If you file for a bifurcation of your marital status, you will not be able to resolve these issues. However you will be able to return to your single status.
  • If you or your spouse wishes to marry someone else. When you are still legally married to the other party in the divorce, you cannot marry another person. A bifurcated divorce is necessary in order for either party to get married to another person.

What is a Bifurcated Divorce in Ontario?

Spouses who want to end their marriage, but who have yet to decide on or settle their corollary issues, can opt to bifurcate - or sever - their divorce from all their other issues. Simply, they can terminate their marital status and be divorced, whilst setting aside their issues of child custody and access, child support, spousal support and property division for determination at a later date.

How to File for Bifurcated Divorce

To have your divorce bifurcated or severed, you must ask for such relief in your Application, or on a Motion. The decision is ultimately then that of the judge's, who will consider the following:

As per section 11(1)(b) of the Divorce Act:

In a divorce proceeding, it is the duty of the court to satisfy itself that reasonable arrangements have been made for the support of any children of the marriage, having regard to the applicable guidelines, and, if such arrangements have not been made, to stay the granting of the divorce until such arrangements are made.

As per Rule 12(6) of the Family Law Rules:
The court may, on motion, make an order splitting a divorce from the other issues in a case if:
a. neither spouse will be disadvantaged by the order; and
b. reasonable arrangements have been made for the support of any children of the marriage.

Often, where the only thing ex-spouses can agree on is the fact that they want to be divorced, a bifurcated divorce may be a solid place to start. After all, some divorces can take months or even years to resolve. As such, parties that want to be remarried or who want to be "single" for tax purposes may seek to have their divorce divided in order to have their marital status changed sooner.

Contact the professionals at Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. to schedule a consultation and learn more about bifurcated divorce in Ontario.