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What is a bifurcated divorce?

Celebrity power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are now officially split, despite ongoing divorce proceedings.  More than two year ago, the Mr. & Mrs. Smith costars, who share six children together, announced their estrangement.  The couple’s divorce has been contentious from the start, with a fierce custody battle and unresolved financial matters.  In an effort to allow each of them to move on with their lives, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie moved for a bifurcated divorce.  As a result, they are now declared officially single, but the divorce will continue to resolve the remaining issues. Our Midland, Texas divorce lawyers explain bifurcated divorce and discuss whether the practice is allowed in the state of Texas.

Bifurcation Explained

Bifurcation is a court process in which the family court allows a divorce case to be split into essentially two parts. First, the marital status will be resolved, meaning the couple will be declared single. Next, the ex-spouses will need to still determine various issues surrounding the divorce, including division of property, child support, child custody, and alimony.

Generally, a court will only elect to bifurcate a divorce for a solid reason.  Potential reasons that could lead a court to bifurcate the divorce include the desire of a spouse to remarry, time consuming issues that may delay the divorce for some time, or the attempts of one spouse to delay the divorce.  In the case of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, it appears the court has elected to bifurcate the divorce due to the many complex issues surrounding the case and the fact that the case has already been ongoing for over two years.

Bifurcation in Texas

In the state of Texas, family law courts are generally not permitted to bifurcate a divorce case.  Texas courts want to see all divorce issues resolved before a divorce is finalized, likely out of concern that splitting the matter could lead to even more issues as the remaining divorce matters are worked out.  As such, if you are in the midst of a complex divorce that seems to be dragging on longer than desired, you will need to work towards achieving a divorce settlement or move for a quicker judgment. Your divorce attorney will help you to achieve the best and swiftest resolution to your divorce as possible.