Bifurcation Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Bifurcation?

(n) Bifurcation is the process by which a judge separate a part of the issue under his consideration or the case for trial before him and decide on that part without concluding other issues brought in the suit. Bifurcation is sought when the resolving of the connected issues expect to take time leading to hardship to effected party.

History and Meaning of Bifurcation

Bifurcation is a legal term that refers to the process of separating a part of an issue or a case for trial and deciding on that part without concluding other issues brought in the lawsuit. The purpose of bifurcation is to expedite the resolution of a case and avoid undue hardship to the party affected by the case's lengthy proceedings. Bifurcation can be ordered by a judge on his own initiative or be requested by one of the parties to the lawsuit.

Bifurcation is commonly used in complex lawsuits that involve multiple issues, such as class action lawsuits, divorce proceedings, or bankruptcy cases. In these types of cases, separating the issues into smaller parts can help the parties to focus on and resolve them quickly and efficiently.

Examples of Bifurcation

  1. In a personal injury lawsuit, the judge bifurcated the trial into liability and damages phases, allowing the parties to determine who was at fault for the accident before presenting evidence of the plaintiff's injuries.

  2. In a divorce proceeding, the judge bifurcated the trial into separate hearings for property division and child custody, letting the parties resolve the less controversial issue of property division first.

  3. In a patent infringement case, the judge bifurcated the trial into separate hearings for validity and infringement, allowing the parties to focus on these distinct issues and avoiding any potential confusion or overlap.

Legal Terms Similar to Bifurcation

  1. Severance - This legal term refers to the separation of a case or a part of a case from the rest of the lawsuit, typically for trial. Severance can be used in conjunction with bifurcation to further simplify and streamline a complex case.

  2. Stays - Stays refer to the suspension or postponement of a legal proceeding, usually at the request of one of the parties, to allow time for settlement negotiations, discovery, or other pre-trial matters.

  3. Consolidation - This legal term refers to the combining of two or more lawsuits into a single proceeding, often when the parties involve the same issues of law or fact. Consolidation is the opposite of bifurcation and may occur to reduce court costs or avoid inconsistent rulings.