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2024 California Rules of Court

Rule 5.390. Bifurcation of issues

(a) Request for order to bifurcate

As part of the noticed Request for Order (FL-300) of a party, the stipulation of the parties, case management, or the court's own motion, the court may bifurcate one or more issues to be tried separately before other issues are tried. A party requesting a separate trial or responding to a request for a separate trial must complete Application or Response to Application for Separate Trial (form FL-315).

(b) When to bifurcate

The court may separately try one or more issues before trial of the other issues if resolution of the bifurcated issue is likely to simplify the determination of the other issues. Issues that may be appropriate to try separately in advance include:

(1)  Validity of a postnuptial or premarital agreement;

(2)  Date of separation;

(3)  Date to use for valuation of assets;

(4)  Whether property is separate or community;

(5)  How to apportion increase in value of a business;

(6)  Existence or value of business or professional goodwill;

(7)  Termination of status of a marriage or domestic partnership;

(8)  Child custody and visitation (parenting time);

(9)  Child, spousal, or domestic partner support;

(10)  Attorney's fees and costs;

(11)  Division of property and debts;

(12)  Reimbursement claims; or

(13)  Other issues specific to a family law case.

(c) Alternate date of valuation

Requests for separate trial regarding alternate date of valuation under Family Code section 2552(b) must be accompanied by a declaration stating the following:

(1)  The proposed alternate valuation date;

(2)   Whether the proposed alternate valuation date applies to all or only a portion of the assets and, if the Request for Order (FL-300) is directed to only a portion of the assets, the declaration must separately identify each such asset; and

(3)   The reasons supporting the alternate valuation date.

(d) Separate trial to terminate status of marriage or domestic partnership

(1)  All pension plans that have not been divided by court order that require joinder must be joined as a party to the case before a petitioner or respondent may file a request for a separate trial to terminate marital status or the domestic partnership. Parties may refer to Retirement Plan Joinder-Information Sheet (form FL-318-INFO) to help determine whether their retirement benefit plans must be joined.

(2)  The party not requesting termination of status may ask the court:

(A)  To order that the judgment granting a dissolution include conditions that preserve his or her claims in retirement benefit plans, health insurance, and other assets; and

(B)  For other orders made as conditions to terminating the parties' marital status or domestic partnership.

(3)  The court must use Bifurcation of Status of Marriage or Domestic Partnership-Attachment (form FL-347) as an attachment to the order after hearing in these matters.

(4)  In cases involving division of pension benefits acquired by the parties during the marriage or domestic partnership, the court must use Pension Benefits-Attachment to Judgment (form FL-348) to set out the orders upon severance of the status of marriage or domestic partnership. The form serves as a temporary qualified domestic relations order and must be attached to the status-only judgment and then served on the plan administrator. It can also be attached to a judgment to allow the parties time to prepare a qualified domestic relations order.

(e) Notice by clerk

Within 10 days after the order deciding the bifurcated issue and any statement of decision under rule 3.1591 have been filed, the clerk must serve copies to the parties and file a certificate of mailing or a certificate of electronic service.

(Subd (e) amended effective January 1, 2017.)

Rule 5.390 amended effective January 1, 2017; adopted effective January 1, 2013.

Title 5, Family and Juvenile Rules-Division 1, Family Rules-Chapter 12, Separate Trials (Bifurcation) and Interlocutory Appeals-Article 2, Interlocutory Appeals; adopted January 1, 2013.

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