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The Court of Appeal in Orange County Ruled that Only Slight Evidence is Necessary to Bifurcate the Issue of Marital Status

Wife’s Orange County divorce attorney filed for divorce in and requested sole child custody and spousal support. Husband’s Orange County divorce lawyer moved to bifurcate the issue of marital status from the remaining issues, so husband could untangle his finances from wife as soon as possible.  Husband’s Orange County divorce attorney argued that divorce status could be quickly resolved, whereas, child custody and spousal support may take significantly more time due to discovery and the likelihood of a lengthy trial. Wife’s Orange County divorce lawyer opposed the motion to bifurcate but failed to show any prejudice to wife. The divorce court denied the motion to bifurcate and husband’s Orange County divorce lawyer appealed.

The Court of Appeal determined the Orange County divorce court erred in denying the motion to bifurcate because (1) husband presented extensive reasons in support, and (2) wife presented no substantive reasons in opposition.  The Court of Appeal agreed with husband’s Orange County divorce attorney and held that only slight evidence is necessary to obtain bifurcation of marital status and that the opposing spouse has to the burden to present compelling reasons for denial.

The Court of Appeal agreed with husband’s Orange County divorce lawyer and noted that the California Supreme Court and legislature favor bifurcation.  It is in the best interest of the public not to force two people to remain legally bound when the relationship has been found to be unworkable. Marital status should not be postponed simply because issues relating to property, child custody, and support are not ready to be decided.

Gionis v. Superior Court (1988) 202 Cal. App. 3d 786