Monday, January 22, 2007

Case Law Development: Bifurcating Judgment Precludes Appeal

A recent inquiry from a reader asked whether bifurcated judgments in divorce actions may be separately appealed.  Here is at least one court's answer...

Rather than simply enter temporary orders, a divorce court will sometimes bifurcate a divorce judgment, granting divorce or child custody for example, and reserving judgment of financial issues pending more factual development or hearings.  However, the Illinois court has held that such a bifurcated judgment is not final for purposes of appeal.  In this case, the trial judge entered a judgment of dissolution, divided the marital property, granted sole custody of the children to petitioner, set child support of $1,306.95 a month, and barred respondent from receiving maintenance. However, it "reserved" the issues of visitation, the children's post-high-school educational expenses, and petitioner's maintenance.  Raising the issue sua sponte, the Illinois Court of Appeals held that "The reservation of issues here deprives us of jurisdiction over this appeal."  -- No bifurcating appeals.

Mardjetko v. Mardjetko, 2007 Ill. App. Lexis 3 (January 5, 2007)
Opinion on the web (last visited January 15, 2007 bgf)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2007/01/case_law_develo_2.html

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