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Family law: Bifurcation of marriage
insurance coverage for the oppos- and then Philippine House of
ing party and the minor children Representatives Majority Floor
HERE are instances where Under aforementioned section of
or, if insurance is not maintained, Leader (now Senator) Mar Roxas
you may want to secure a YOUR LEGAL the Family Code, the court may
payment of health and medical II. He also worked as a legal
decree of dissolution of
impose various requirements on
expenses that would have been consultant to former Philippine
your marriage pending resolu- a party who seeks bifurcation as
covered by insurance. Senate Majority Floor Leader
tion of so many issues in your a condition to severing the is-
*** Loren Legarda. He taught Philip-
divorce case. This is what you sue of marital status.. The party
Atty. Tonisito Umali is a mem- pine Constitution and Philippine
call “bifurcation of your marital requesting bifurcation can also
ber of the California State Bar Local Government Code in one of
status issue” only. agree to certain conditions as
and Integrated Bar of the Philip- the largest Philippine State Uni-
Under Section 2337 if the part of the bifurcation request. In
pines. He is also a member of the versity (Polytechnic University
California Family Code, the the event of that party’s death, an
American Bar Association, Los of the Philippines). Atty. Umali
court may, on motion, sever (or order imposing such conditions
Angeles County Bar Association also served as resource speaker in
bifurcate) and grant an early and
would continue to be binding on
and San Fernando Valley Bar As- various seminars and wrote sev-
separate trial on the issue of dis-
his/her estate.
sociation. Atty. Umali obtained eral articles for some Philippine
solution of the parties’ marriage, The law provides that any or
his Bachelor of Science major non-government organizations.
apart from the other issues in the such party’s desire to remarry. To all of the following orders may be
in Legal Management and Juris For your free initial consultation,
action. However, whether the successfully counter a request for imposed on the party requesting
Doctor degrees at the Ateneo de you can contact him directly at
court should grant the requested bifurcation, the opposing party bifurcation:
Manila University. He served as a #(818) 831-0486 or visit him at
bifurcation and issue a “status must show compelling reasons - indemnification of the oppos-
legislative officer to former Phil- 3325 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 737,
only “ judgment terminating the why he or she would be preju- ing party from tax liability that
ippine Senator Nikki Coseteng Los Angeles, CA 90010. ■
parties’ marriage is an issue of diced by an early termination of may be caused by the termination
law the determination of which marital status. of marital status occurring before
is within the judicial discretion The granting of bifurcation the division of the parties’ com-
Relief from default in
of the court. and status-only judgment may munity property;
The court also has the power cause the loss of valuable rights - joinder of the requesting
divorce cases
to bifurcate and try separately associated with marital status (e.g. party’s pension plan as a party
issues other than marital status loss of health insurance coverage; to the marital action and if ap-
HERE are situations in
both Divorce and Child
(e.g.: child custody; child support; surviving spouse benefits; de- plicable
Support cases where the
spousal support, etc.). rivative Social Security benefits; - maintenance, until judgment
The usual reason for a party benefits to a military spouse, etc.) is entered and becomes final on
Summons and Petition resulted
to request for bifurcation of the earlier than if marital status was all remaining issues of existing
to a default against one party for
issue of marital status only is determined with all other issues. or comparable health and medical
failing to respond in time. In cer-
tain situations, the defaulted party
failed to respond in time because
he or she did not even know that
he or she was served with a Sum-
mons. This situation places the
defaulted party in a precarious
situation in that the first time the
defaulted party usually becomes
aware of the existence of the case App. 3d 1069, 229 Cal. Rptr. 389
is when the default child support (2d Dist. 1986) So even if you
judgment or divorce judgment is actually received the complaint,
actually being enforced against if you do not speak English and
the defaulted party. At this point, are not sophisticated with busi-
the party no longer has the right ness and legal matters, you may
to participate or defend itself in use the arguments that the default
the litigation. judgment should be set aside be-
Based on my experience in cause you did not receive “actual
practice, the defaulted party notice.” It is the Court’s policy to,
usually gets in this situation as reflected in the Olvera case, to
because they move residences liberally grant setting aside such
and the summons is served in the defaults and having the case heard
prior residence. Sometimes, the on the merits.
summons is fraudulently served. Default Judgment may be set
Fortunately, relief is available for aside by an attorney by filing a
the defaulted party. If a default Motion for relief from default.
judgment is entered against a This would be accompanied by
party who was served with sum- a declaration from the defaulted
mons, but service did not result party that he never received actual
in actual notice in time to defend notice. A copy of the proposed
the action, the party may serve response is also required to be
and file a notice of motion to set filed with the court. This type of
aside the default or default judg- motion must be filed and served
ment, and for leave to defend within 2 years after entry of
the action. Code Civ. Proc., § default judgment or within 180
473.5, subd. (a) days after service of a notice of
“Actual notice” means genuine default or default judgment on the
knowledge of the party litigant. defaulted party, whichever comes
Rosenthal v. Garner, 142 Cal. first. If you are a defaulted party,
App. 3d 891, 191 Cal. Rptr. 300 you should retain the representa-
(2d Dist. 1983)The Courts has tion of an experienced attorney
strictly construed this term to to set the default aside as soon
implement a policy of liberally as you can.
granting relief so that cases can be ***
resolved on their merits. Olvera v. Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes
Olvera, 232 Cal. App. 3d 32, 283 was President of the Philippine
Cal. Rptr. 271 (4th Dist. 1991) In American Bar Association. He
addition, actual notice by a party’s is a member of both the Family
attorney will not be imputed to the law section and Immigration law
client. Rosenthal v. Garner, 142 section of the Los Angeles County
Cal. App. 3d 891, 191 Cal. Rptr. Bar Association. He is a gradu-
300 (2d Dist. 1983) ate of Southwestern University
There is an additional angle Law School in Los Angeles and
of argument available for non California State University, San
native English speakers. Receipt Bernardino School of Business
of summons and complaint by a Administration. He has extensive
non-English speaking defendant CPA experience prior to law prac-
lacking in business sophistica- tice. LAW OFFICES OF KEN-
tion may not impart “actual NETH REYES, P.C. is located at
knowledge.” Goya v. P.E.R.U. 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700,
Enterprises, 87 Cal. App. 3d Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel.
886, 151 Cal. Rptr. 258 (2d Dist. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail kureye-
1978); Tunis v. Barrow, 184 Cal. ■
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