What is “legally single,” and can you follow in Kim Kardashian’s footsteps and do the same thing?
After a tumultuous few months following filing for divorce in 2021, as of March 2, 2022, Kim Kardashian has been declared “legally single” by California judges. If you are going through a divorce or thinking about going through a divorce, you might wonder what it means to be “legally single,” and how/if you can do the same thing.
What is it?
“Legally single” is a phrase Kim Kardashian has used to bifurcate (split) her divorce proceeding into two parts- separating her relationship status and legal name from assets and child custody. Bifurcation is used to allow one party to move forward with their romantic life as a single person, while dealing with other more complex matters like finances and parenting. Kardashian’s argument was that her husband, Kanye West, was never going to move forward with divorce (as he had been skirting divorce court dates and paperwork) proceedings, and that she wanted to be able to move on. So essentially, “legally single,” is part one of a two part divorce proceeding, that allows a party to not be married, while not yet being fully divorced.
Can you become “legally single” in Arizona?
The short answer is, no. Arizona does not allow bifurcated divorces, and therefore, there is no way to become “legally single,” before completing the other requirements of the divorce process.
Kim Kardashian is getting divorced in the state of California, a state which, by statute, permits bifurcated divorce. California Family Code § 2337(a) allows the court (in California) to sever and grant an early and separate trial on the issue of the dissolution of the status of the marriage, apart from other issues (like assets and childcare).
In Arizona, Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-312(4) requires the court to divide the parties’ assets and debts, enter child custody orders, enter child support, and, if appropriate, enter spousal maintenance when issuing a divorce decree. The court therefore, is not allowed to grant a divorce decree without first resolving other matters like assets, debts, custody, and support. Further, the Arizona Supreme Court held that the use of separate judgements to resolve issues of marriage dissolution and property distribution is erroneous. Porter v. Estate of Pigg.
So, in Arizona, you cannot separate out the different “parts” of a divorce, allowing a party to be “legally single” separate from all the other matters.
What can you do?
In Arizona, before a divorce is final you can still legally change your name, and enter into binding partial agreements that allow you to resolve one matter, like property or custody, before the divorce is final. This normally happens when the parties are stuck on one matter, but want to move forward/resolve other things that they agree upon.