Bifurcate Law & Legal Definition


In a broad sense, bifurcate means to bisect, halve, divide, split, cut in two, cleave. In a legal sense, bifurcate refers to the order or ruling of a judge that one issue in a case can be separately tried to a conclusion or a judgment rendered on one aspect of a case without reaching a determination on all aspects of the matter. For example, a judge may grant a divorce judgment without hearing evidence or making a ruling on such issues as division of marital property, child custody or spousal support. Also, in a negligence case, the court may bifurcate the issues of liability and damages and hear evidence on the defendant's liability and recah a determination on that issue before going proceeding with a trial on the amount of damages. If the court rules there is no liability, then the amount of damages is meaningless and no further trial is necessary.