Kelsey Grammer Seeks Bifurcated Divorce; Reportedly Wants to Marry New Fiancee Soon 0

Actor Kelsey Grammer has asked a California judge to bifurcate his divorce from Camille Grammer, granting a divorce immediately while holding judgment on all financial and custody issues until a later date. According to some reports, the actor wants to marry his new fiancee Kayte Walsh as soon as possible. The couple reportedly began seeing each other before the Grammers split this summer.

Walsh became pregnant with Grammer’s child but later had a miscarriage. The new couple have been engaged for several months.

Under California family law, a divorce can become final six months after a petition is filed. Camille Grammer filed for divorce on July 1, 2010. Six months from that date is January 1, 2011. Court will not be in session on that date – so, Monday, January 3rd would be the earliest possible divorce date. It is unlikely though that the court would act on the request to bifurcate so quickly.

Bifurcation – allowed in California and several other states – allows the actual divorce (the termination of the legal marital relationship) to precede the final resolution of any other unresolved issues, which might include both financial, custody and support matters. There are several different reasons that a party or court might wish to bifurcate a divorce case. The most obvious reason is so that one of the parties can legally marry someone else, as is clearly the case in the Grammer divorce.

Often, however, bifurcations occur when the unresolved issues are very complicated and/or high-conflict matters (which may or may not be the case here). In those situations, the early granting of divorce decree may serve as the first step in an emotional process, allowing conflicted parties to let go emotionally and begin to work through financial matters in a rational way. When one step is made in the right direction, the momentum can often carry through to financial negotiations. (On occasion, the divorce decree can also dismantle legal roadblocks to everyday business matters – spousal waivers, co-signs and acknowledgments are no longer necessary when there is no spouse from whom to require signature or assent.)

Some tabloids reported that Kelsey filed paperwork to keep Camille’s hands off of his various pension and retirement funds. A quick look at the documents, however, reveal that they are very standard court forms used when the divorcing couple has a pending interest in retirement benefits. The documents do not appear to be anything other than a court-mandated formality and certainly not a swipe of any sort at Camille.

The Grammers were married on August 2, 1997 and have two children. Camille filed for divorce on June 28th, 2010. She is represented by divorce attorney Neal Hersh; Kelsey Grammer is represented by lawyer Robert Kaufman.

UPDATE: The Grammers apparently had no prenuptial agreement and have marital assets worth approximately $100,000,000 (largely in non-liquid, real estate). California’s community property laws dictate a 50/50 split of the marital property – the division of which can be difficult if much of the estate is tied up in real estate in a slow market.

Library Topics: bifurcated divorce, California family law, retirement funds, divorce attorney

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