You may have heard the phrase “divisible divorce,” but what does it mean?
Divisible divorce, also called “bifurcated divorce,” is the concept that the marriage itself can be dissolved while the issues incident to the divorce, such as alimony and equitable distribution, can be reserved for separate proceedings. Each issue – divorce, alimony, equitable distribution, child custody, and child support – are separate claims that can each be handled by a court independently at different times.
For example, let’s say that Mark and his wife Sarah legally separated 13 months ago when Mark moved out of the home they shared and into an apartment. The two of them haven’t spoken since Mark moved out. Mark files for divorce based on the fact that he and Sarah have been living separate and apart for more than one year. After being served, Sarah files an answer to the complaint in which she confirms that the two of them have been separated for more than a year, but she also includes a counterclaim for equitable distribution (property division). At this point, Mark can go ahead and ask a judge to enter a judgment of divorce, dissolving their marriage. However, the equitable distribution case will continue between these two unmarried/single people for as long as necessary to resolve the property division completely.
If you have questions about divorce, alimony, equitable distribution, child custody, or child support, contact our office today to schedule a consultation.