Generally, a person cannot get divorced in Pennsylvania until all economic claims, such as property distribution and alimony, are resolved. However, a bifurcated divorce action allows the parties to separate the economic claims from the actual divorce, meaning that the divorce can be obtained before the economic claims are resolved. This typically allows the parties to become divorced quicker and can be beneficial because it can allow a party to remarry sooner.
To win a bifurcation case, a party must meet the following three criteria:
- The grounds for divorce must be established;
- Compelling circumstances must exist for entry of the divorce decree; and
- Sufficient economic protections must be provided to the other party while the economic claims remain pending.
Grounds are established in one of 3 ways: a fault grounds for divorce, consent of the parties, or where the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of 2 years and the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Compelling circumstances can be proven by showing facts such as a lengthy period of separation, cohabitation with another individual, and the ability to obtain health insurance from a new spouse through remarriage.
The sufficient economic protections prong (listed above) can typically be proven if the bifurcation will not harm the economic interests of the party opposing the bifurcation. Consequently, because these requirements can be met in many divorce cases, bifurcations are becoming easier to obtain in Pennsylvania.
If you have a question regarding a divorce or family law issue, contact one of the experienced attorneys at Trinity Law today. Trinity Law’s family law attorneys routinely handle Pennsylvania divorce matters in York, Lancaster and surrounding counties.