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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 12490
Experience:  Attorney experienced in all aspects of family law
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We were married in the state of NY but have been residents

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We were married in the state of NY but have been residents for California for 12 years. We are seeking a bifurcated divorce. I have read that NY does not grant bifurcation but California does. Is it our residency status that counts...ie does residing in California vs. being married in NY count towards being able to get a bifurcation?
And if not, what are our other options...
--are we able to get a standard divorce but not divvy up assets? do we have any say or control over this?

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Brandon M. :

My name is Brandon. Thank you for your questions.

Brandon M. :

To avoid confusion, please allow me to answer them in the order that they were presented.

Brandon M. :

To start, what matters is your current state of residency. As long as you have both been residents of the state of California for at least the past 6 months, you would file for divorce in California, and the dissolution of the marriage would be determined under California law. That means that there is no reason you couldn't get a bifurcation.

Brandon M. :

Where you married is entirely irrelevant--what matters is the current state(s) of residency.

Customer:

that's great to hear. is this something we can do ourselves (ie file for)?

Brandon M. :

Well, that's actually up to you. I can tell you that about 80% of divorcing couples do so without the assistance of legal counsel, but it's a bit like asking whether you can file your own income tax return. Some people will always need professional assistance, some people can do it themselves no matter how complex their returns are. Most people fall somewhere in the middle--they can stumble through it themselves successfully as long as there aren't particularly complex issues that need to be addressed. It's basically the same way when filing divorce--the typical person can usually stumble through it themselves, but it depends on the complexity of the case and the ability of the parties.

Customer:

we have been extremely amicable in this (thus the bifurcation as we do not have issues on our assets) and were hoping to do this ourselves so last question:

Customer:

--do you know if filing for bifurcation is complicated and/or what would be most economical means to find some counsel in this

Brandon M. :

Bifurcating is relatively complicated. If I may ask, why is bifurcating of interest to you?

Brandon M. :

I ask because it's usually an option that isn't explored until after the petition for dissolution has been filed.

Customer:

we have been separated for four years and living in our house where he stays in the in-law unit below and I above. we started dating other people two years ago and feel like we want the official title of divorce but are in no hurry to divvy up assets unless one of us is ready to marry or have the need to separate assets.

Brandon M. :

That makes perfect sense, and bifurcation would be right for you under those circumstances. Not everyone has a firm understanding of what it means to bifurcate, but you have clearly looked into this!

Brandon M. :

That said, the good news is that bifurcation is a lot more accessible than it was even five years ago. California has a series of standardized statewide "judicial council forms", and they have created a form specifically to request bifurcation. The complicated component is gathering the information needed and offering it to the other party as required.

Customer:

would you advise seeking help for that portion of info gathering?

Brandon M. :

I would, but perhaps no more than an hour with an attorney for that particular action. The most efficient way to do it would be to draft the documents yourself, then schedule a consultation with a family law attorney to look things over and make sure that you have done everything correctly (and give you assistance if your filings are in any way defective).

Brandon M. :

You asked about the most economical means of finding counsel. In which California county do you reside?

Customer:

We live in San Francisco

Brandon M. :

The San Francisco Bar Association has a referral service. If you use the service to find your attorney, you pay only $35 for the first 30 minutes of your consultation. You can visit the website here: http://www.sfbar.org/lawyerreferrals/index.aspx

Brandon M. :

That should allow you some significant savings.

Brandon M. :

Honestly, San Francisco's attorneys charge some of the highest rates in the state. I can't blame anyone for avoiding them if possible.

Customer:

Agree...the attorneys here are so expensive! Thank you for the great news and advice Brandon!

Brandon M. :

It was my pleasure. Did you have any other question?

Customer:

I believe you answered everything.

Brandon M. :

Terrific. It was my pleasure to help you this evening. Take care.

Customer:

Thank you!

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