“What Is A Status-Only Divorce Judgment?”

A status-only divorce judgment is used where one or more parties wants to be officially divorced before all the financial or custody or other issues have been resolved. There are two ways to do this.

First, by agreement. If both parties agree that they wish to have the dissolution take place, they can do it in court and have a judgment issued on just that single issue.

Second, if one party wants it, but the other will not agree, a motion to bifurcate (separate) the issue of status and have it heard early can be filed. The judge will then look at the circumstances, and either grant or deny the motion. In these cases, the judge is required to make sure that the objecting party is protected—for instance, if the objecting spouse is covered by the other party’s health insurance, the judge can require that a separate policy of equal coverage be maintained at the cost of the party who wants the status judgment, so that the rights of the objecting spouse are preserved.

The judge can also require that there are no changes to life insurance policies and other financial items, to ensure that one party does not get an advantage by the bifurcation of status.

Generally, status-only judgments are used in cases where it will take some time to finish all the issues, and the parties do not want to wait that long to get actually divorced. They are usually not necessary or advisable in simple divorces.

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