Family Law Corner: Quickie Divorce? Not So Quick!

“Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer recently married wife number four after being granted a “quickie” divorce—but he had to post a 2.3 million dollar bond to make it happen.  As often happens in divorce cases, Kelsey asked the court to bifurcate his divorce status from his wife of thirteen years, Camille Grammer, star of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” so that he could marry his fiancée before he and Camille had finalized their property and support issues. 

Kelsey brazenly announced on the “David Letterman Show” that he would be marrying his new girlfriend in February, before his divorce was finalized and stated that he "won't postpone his happiness."  Camille opposed the bifurcation, primarily because if Kelsey remarried and then died before the property issues had been adjudicated, Kelsey’s new wife could claim rights to his pension as Kelsey’s surviving spouse which would provoke a new legal battle.   By announcing his intention in the media and sending out invitations (according to some reports), Kelsey gave Camille a leg up in the negotiation.

In California, it takes a minimum of six months to finalize a divorce, but divorce cases involving child custody issues and significant income or assets often take much longer than that.   In these cases, parties often want to be divorced while these issues are still being addressed, and in order to bifurcate and sever the issue of marital status, the requesting party (the “bifurcator”) may have to meet certain conditions imposed by the court per Family Code Section 2337, including but not limited to maintaining health insurance (equivalent to the pre-bifurcation health insurance) for the period following the bifurcation until the remaining issues are fully resolved; indemnifying the other party harmless from any adverse consequences if the bifurcation results in the loss of rights to social security benefits or elections to the extent the other party would have been entitled to those benefits or elections as the surviving spouse; or providing a specific security interest if circumstances exist that would adversely affect a party's community property rights if the other party died before the division and distribution and payment of community property interests.

Camille demanded that Kelsey post a $10 million bond to cover her possible litigation expenses and potential losses, asserting that she shouldn't have to litigate against the next Mrs. Grammer in order to protect her community property rights.  Kelsey ultimately agreed to post a $2.3 million bond for eighteen months to protect Camille’s interest in his pension pending final resolution of the property issues.  Kelsey married for the fourth time on February 25, 2011, and celebrity news sources say there was no prenuptial agreement.