Bifurcate Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Bifurcate, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Bifurcate?

(v) Bifurcate is the step by which a judge separate a part of the issue under his consideration or the case for trial and decide on them without concluding the other issues brought in the suit. Eg. Admitting separation without deciding the division of marital property in a divorce petition.

History and Meaning of Bifurcate

Bifurcate is a term used in the legal system when a judge decides to divide a trial into two separate parts based on the issues at hand. The judge tries and decides on one issue, and the other is dealt with in a separate trial or hearing. This approach is taken when a considerable amount of time or money can be saved by splitting the trial into two parts of the case. The term has been used for a long time, dating back to as long as legal systems go.

Examples of Bifurcate

  1. In a divorce case, a judge will bifurcate the case if the couple cannot agree on property division, and the judge will determine other issues, such as child custody or alimony payments first.
  2. A judge may bifurcate a case involving liability and damages because the parties can agree on one without the other.
  3. In a patent trial, a judge may bifurcate the case and hear issues concerning invalidity or infringement in a separate trial.

Legal Terms Similar to Bifurcate

  • Consolidation: The process of consolidating or merging two cases into one.
  • Severance: The separation of one or more claims or defenses from a civil case, for separate trial or disposition.
  • Dismissal Without Prejudice: Termination of a lawsuit which permits the plaintiff to refile the suit if desired.
  • Dismissal With Prejudice: Termination of a lawsuit precluding the plaintiff from bringing the same lawsuit or claim again.