If you are considering divorce, or dissolution of marriage in California, or you have started your divorce case, you may wish to legally change your marital status as quickly as possible. If your divorce involves children or complicated financial issues, however, the dissolution may involve time-consuming negotiations or court proceedings. In California, you can request a bifurcation, which changes your marital status more quickly while reserving the other legal issues for future agreement or judgment. A bifurcation may allow you to remarry or reclaim your single status for tax purposes or other legal purposes before your divorce case completely ends.
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Negotiate with your spouse to see whether you can agree to a bifurcated divorce that will allow you to get a status-only judgment. Write a stipulation and order stating that you both agree to terminate your marital status but leave the other legal issues to be decided in the future. Prepare the required California Judicial Council forms, including forms FL-130: Appearance, Stipulations and Waivers; FL-170: Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation; FL-180: Judgment and FL-190: Notice of Entry of Judgment. Submit your completed forms to the clerk's office at the California court where you have your pending dissolution case.
If only you want to bifurcate your divorce case and your spouse does not agree, use the California Judicial Council forms to request bifurcation on your own. Fill out Form FL-315: Application or Response to Application for Separate Trial, which requires you to select the legal issues that you would like the court to adjudicate immediately, such as your marital status. Identify any conditions for early termination of your marital status, such as division of some property or maintenance of spousal health insurance benefits.
Prepare Form FL-301: Notion of Motion, which is a cover sheet identifying the legal issues in your request to the court. Attach your completed Form FL-315 to Form FL-301.
If you have not already provided your spouse with the financial documents required at the beginning of a divorce case in California, such as FL-140: Declaration of Disclosure and your completed Schedule of Assets and Debts, prepare these documents. Include copies of these financial documents with your bifurcation forms.
Serve copies of all documents on your spouse, following the rules of service under California law---you can find service rules in the California Judicial Court form instructions on Form FL-301. After completing service on your spouse, file your original forms with the clerk's office at the family court where you have your pending dissolution case. Schedule a hearing for the court to consider whether a bifurcation is appropriate for your situation; make note of the hearing date, attend as scheduled and follow up as specified by the judge.
Tips & Warnings
Find free, blank copies of the California Judicial Council court forms on the California Courts Self-Help Center website.
As dissolution procedures can vary by county, contact your local court to inquire about specific requirements for bifurcation.
Consult with a California divorce lawyer who can explain the legal consequences of a bifurcation under the state's laws before you proceed.
Review your California Judicial Council forms with the help of an attorney before submitting them to the court.Tags: California Judicial, California Judicial Council, Judicial Council, marital status