Yes, you sure can. In California, the process is called bifurcation. What we’re doing is carving out different pieces of the pie and dealing with them on different schedules.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say that a marriage has just gone bad, the parties have grown apart, they have a sizeable estate, and it’s going to take them some time to sort out all of their legal issues. Not necessarily a high conflict type of case, but there’s just going to be some ditch digging work that’s going to take some time. One of the spouses has moved on to a new relationship and has a desire to marry that new partner.
We can carve out the idea of being married to each other and we can bring the marital status to an end. We can have these two people restored to the status of single people and then, that one spouse that I talked about, is free to go off and get married, while the balance of the divorce case stays in the system and gets adjudicated on a more necessary but timely course. So, I can get you divorced, you would be free to go out and get remarried. And, then we can take the time that we need to sort out the property issues in the case, to transition into a parenting plan that is better for the kids, and to deal with other issues that shouldn’t be rushed. So, yes, we can take care of a case in bits and pieces if that proves to be the most efficient way to handle it.
John Harding is the principal of the law firm of Harding & Associates in Northern California. He practices family law litigation and divorce mediation exclusively.