Bifurcation is a legal process that allows a court to grant a divorce while leaving certain issues unresolved. In Kansas, bifurcation is available if the parties agree to it or if the court finds that it is in the best interests of the parties or the children. In Missouri, bifurcation (allowing the parties to get divorced prior to all issues being resolved) is rare, although in some situations, a judge in Missouri will allow the parties to bifurcate their case, meaning to schedule a separate date and time for property issues, from child custody issues, for example. The courts in Missouri are more prone to this course of action if there is a motivating factor such as minimizing the time a guardian ad litem would have to sit in a trial unrelated to child custody issues, for example.
What are the advantages of bifurcation?
There are several advantages to bifurcation. First, it can speed up the divorce process. If the only issue that needs to be resolved is the marital status, the court can grant the divorce quickly. This can be helpful for couples who want to move on with their lives.
Second, bifurcation can reduce the cost of divorce. If the court only needs to address one issue, the hearing will be shorter and less expensive. This can be helpful for couples who are on a tight budget.
Third, bifurcation can help to avoid conflict. If the parties agree to bifurcate the divorce, they can avoid the need to litigate all of the issues in their case. This can help to reduce tension and stress between the parties.
What does the law say about bifurcation in Kansas?
The law in Kansas related to bifurcation is found in K.S.A. 60-1601(b). This statute states that:
"The court may bifurcate a divorce action and grant a divorce from the bonds of matrimony, without disposing of any other issues in the action, if the court finds that the bifurcation is in the best interests of the parties or the children."
To bifurcate a divorce, the parties must first file a joint motion with the court. The motion must state the reasons why the parties believe that bifurcation is in their best interests. The court will then hold a hearing to consider the motion. If the court finds that bifurcation is in the best interests of the parties or the children, it will grant the motion and issue a divorce decree.
Once the divorce decree is issued, the parties will still need to resolve the other issues in their divorce, such as child custody, child support, and division of assets and debts. These issues can be resolved through negotiation, mediation, or litigation.
Bifurcation can be a helpful tool for couples who are going through a divorce. It can speed up the divorce process, reduce the cost of the divorce, and help to avoid conflict. However, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of bifurcation before deciding whether to request it.
What are the disadvantages of bifurcation?
First, it can make it more difficult to resolve all of the issues in the divorce. If the parties do not agree on how to divide assets or debts, the court will need to address these issues at a later date. This can delay the finalization of the divorce. Sometimes, when the status of the divorce is resolved, the parties do not have further motivation to move forward with addressing the remaining issues.
Second, bifurcation can be confusing for the parties. If the court grants a divorce without resolving all of the issues, the parties may not know what their rights and responsibilities are. This can lead to misunderstandings and at times, unnecessary conflict.
Third, bifurcation can be difficult for children. If the court grants a divorce without resolving custody and visitation issues, the children may not know where they will live or when they will see their parents. This can be stressful and confusing for children.
Overall, bifurcation is a legal process that can have both advantages and disadvantages. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of bifurcation before deciding whether to request it. If you are considering bifurcation, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your options.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind if you are considering bifurcation in Kansas:
- Be sure to understand the terms of the bifurcation agreement. The agreement should state which issues will be resolved at the first hearing and which issues will be resolved at a later date.
- Be prepared to provide evidence to support your position on the unresolved issues. The court will need to see evidence of your financial situation, your parenting abilities, and any other relevant factors in order to make decisions about the unresolved issues.
- Be prepared to negotiate with your spouse. If you cannot agree on how to resolve the unresolved issues, the court will have to make the decisions for you. However, it is always best to try to resolve the issues yourself if possible.
- Be prepared for the possibility that the divorce may not be finalized immediately. If the court does not resolve all of the issues at the first hearing, the divorce may not be finalized until a later date.
Do you need to discuss bifurcation in Kansas or Missouri? If so, call Pingel Family Law today at (816) 208-8130 to schedule your consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney today!