What is a Divisible Divorce?

N. Madison
N. Madison

In a divisible divorce, a marriage is terminated, while other issues, normally settled during a divorce, remain unsettled. When a couple seeks a divorce, any claims for alimony, child custody and visitation, child support, and the division of property are usually decided either by agreement of the parties involved or by a judge's ruling. By contrast, these and any other pertinent issues may be decided after the divorce is final in a divisible divorce. Sometimes a divisible divorce is referred to as a bifurcated divorce.

With a divisble divorce, a marriage is dissolved while other issues, such as alimony, are decided by the court.
With a divisble divorce, a marriage is dissolved while other issues, such as alimony, are decided by the court.

A couple may choose to seek a divisible divorce if one or both spouses wishes to remarry without waiting weeks, months, or even years for the divorce to be finalized. In such a case, a judge may grant the divisible divorce, while leaving the remainder of the case open. Couples may also seek divisible divorces for income tax purposes or various other reasons.

Child custody, visitation and support might be decided after a divorce is finalized.
Child custody, visitation and support might be decided after a divorce is finalized.

Sometimes, a divorce court will have jurisdiction over the divorce, yet may not be legally able to decide other divorce-related matters. This often happens when the plaintiff is a resident of the state in which the divorce case is filed, but the defendant is not. In such a case, the court can rule on the basic divorce, but may not be able to decide issues that require the court to have personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

Laws regarding a divisible divorce vary depending on the jurisdiction.
Laws regarding a divisible divorce vary depending on the jurisdiction.

When a couple seeks a divisible divorce for tax purposes, it may not matter what time of the year the divorce is finalized. According to federal tax laws in the United States, an individual can file an income tax return as a single person as long as he or she is legally divorced by the end of the tax year. This means that a person may terminate his or her marriage on the last day of the year and still be eligible to file as a single taxpayer for the whole year.

Having the right to file as a single person can be important when spousal support is paid. This is because 100% of spousal support payments are deductible for the payer. However, spousal support payments are not deductible if the payer files a joint tax return. On the other hand, the person who receives the spousal support payments must report them as income.

Laws regarding divisible divorce and other divorce-related issues vary depending on the jurisdiction. To determine whether or not a divisible divorce is advantageous in a particular situation, interested parties should consult a qualified attorney. Location specific information may also be found on the Internet and in self-help divorce guides.

A judge may decide that a couple who are divorcing have unsettled tax or other pertinent issues that must be addressed before the divorce is finalized.
A judge may decide that a couple who are divorcing have unsettled tax or other pertinent issues that must be addressed before the divorce is finalized.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

anon10609

What happens if it has been three years since a divorce has been filed and both parties have not come to an agreement?

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