Can I get the Court to make my spouse help me with my legal fees?
Some clients going through a divorce often ask whether or not they can be legally divorced prior to all assets and debts being divided by the Court. The short answer to this question is “yes” — the law does provide for a way to get divorced prior to all economic claims between spouses being resolved by the Court. In Pennsylvania, this process is known as “bifurcation”.
Specifically, 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 3323(c).1.) is entitled “Bifurcation” and states “With the consent of both parties, the Court may enter a Decree of Divorce or Annulment prior to the final determination of disposition of matters provided for in Subsection (b). In the absence of the consent of both parties, the Court may enter a Decree of Divorce or Annulment prior to the final determination or disposition of the matters provided for in said subsection (b) if: (1) grounds have been established as provided in subsection (g); and (2) the moving party has demonstrated that compelling circumstances exist for the entry of the Decree of Divorce or Annulment; and sufficient economic protections have been provided for the other party during the pendency of the disposition of the matters provided for in subsection (b).
It is important to note that while the law does allow for individuals going through a divorce in Berks County to pursue “bifurcation”, it rarely, if ever, comes up in Berks County Courts. It is rare that “compelling circumstances” exist which would allow the Court to enter a bifurcated Divorce Decree prior to the resolution of all financial claims between the parties. Usually, one party is just in a rush to either get re-married or to get as far away from his or her spouse as possible and this is usually not “compelling circumstances” in order for the Court, in the absence of consent from the other party, to bifurcate a divorce.
If you would like to pursue a bifurcated divorce, contact Berks County Divorce Lawyer Joseph A. Guillama to more fully discuss the reasons for, and ramifications of, pursuing a bifurcated divorce.