Civil Law: Family Law

May 31, 2016 | Author: Sharmen Dizon Gallenero | Category: Types, Legal forms
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FAMILY LAW Annulment of Marriage Philippine law does not provide for absolute divorce; hence, our courts cannot grant it. A marriage between two Filipinos cannot be dissolved even by a divorce obtained abroad, because of Articles 1522 and 1723 of the Civil Code. In mixed marriages involving a Filipino and a foreigner, Article 2625 of the Family Code allows the former to contract a subsequent marriage in case the divorce is “validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.” A divorce obtained abroad by a couple, who are both aliens, may be recognized in the Philippines, provided it is consistent with their respective national laws. Van Dorn v. Romillo Jr. decrees that “aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according to their national law.” Therefore, before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our courts, the party pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it. Presentation solely of the divorce decree is insufficient. (Grace J. Garcia v. Rederick A. Recio, GR No. 138322, October 2, 2001) Annulment of Marriage on the ground of Psychological Incapacity From their submissions and the Court’s own deliberations, the following guidelines in the interpretation and application of Art. 36 of the Family Code are hereby handed down for the guidance of the bench and the bar: (1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, recognizing it “as the foundation of the nation.” It decrees marriage as legally “inviolable,” thereby protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be “protected” by the state. The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and solidarity. (2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological -- not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. (3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at “the time of the celebration” of the marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their “I do’s.” The manifestation of the illness need not be

perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto. (4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage. (5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, “mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts” cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage. (6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such noncomplied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision. (7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. It is clear that Article 36 was taken by the Family Code Revision Committee from Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon Law, which became effective in 1983 and which provides: “The following are incapable of contracting marriage: Those who are unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage due to causes of psychological nature.” Since the purpose of including such provision in our Family Code is to harmonize our civil laws with the religious faith of our people, it stands to reason that to achieve such harmonization, great persuasive weight should be given to decisions of such appellate tribunal. Ideally -- subject to our law on evidence -what is decreed as canonically invalid should also be decreed civilly void. This is one instance where, in view of the evident source and purpose of the Family Code provision, contemporaneous religious interpretation is to be given persuasive effect. Here, the State and the Church -- while remaining independent, separate and apart from each other -- shall walk together in synodal cadence towards the same goal of protecting and cherishing marriage and the family as the inviolable base of the nation. (8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the

case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095. (Republic v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 108763, February 13, 1997; Brenda B. Marcos v. Wilson G. Marcos, GR No. 136490, October 19, 2000; Leni O. Choa v. Alfonso C. Choa, GR No. 143376, November 26, 2002) Article 36 of the Family Code is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefore manifest themselves. It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume. These marital obligations are those provided under Articles 68 to 71, 220, 221 and 225 of the Family Code. Neither is Article 36 to be equated with legal separation, in which the grounds need not be rooted in psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil interdiction, drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like. (Brenda B. Marcos v. Wilson G. Marcos, GR No. 136490, October 19, 2000) Capacity to Marry The legal capacity to contract marriage is determined by the national law of the party concerned. The certificate mentioned in Article 21 of the Family Code would have been sufficient to establish the legal capacity of respondent, had he duly presented it in court. A duly authenticated and admitted certificate is prima facie evidence of legal capacity to marry on the part of the alien applicant for a marriage license. (Grace J. Garcia v. Rederick A. Recio, GR No. 138322, October 2, 2001) Civil Status The action to nullify the Birth Certificate does not prescribe, because it was allegedly void ab initio. (Teofista Babiera v. Presentacion B. Catotal, GR No. 138493, June 15, 2000) Conjugal Property Article 160 of the New Civil Code provides that “all property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife.” As a conditio sine qua non for the operation of this article in favor of the conjugal partnership, the party who invokes the presumption must first prove that the property was acquired during the marriage. In other words, the presumption in favor of conjugality does not operate if there is no showing of when the property alleged to be conjugal was acquired. Moreover, the presumption may be rebutted only with strong, clear, categorical and convincing evidence. There must be strict proof of the exclusive ownership of one of the spouses, and the burden of proof rests upon the party asserting it. (Spouses Go v. Leonardo Yamane, GR No. 160762, May 3, 2006; Milagros Joaquino v. Lourdes Reyes, GR No. 154645, July 13, 2004)

The mere registration of a property in the name of one spouse does not destroy its conjugal nature. (Spouses Go v. Leonardo Yamane, GR No. 160762, May 3, 2006) Property is conjugal if acquired in a common-law relationship during the subsistence of a preexisting legal marriage, even if it is titled in the name of the common-law wife. In this case, a constructive trust is deemed created (Milagros Joaquino v. Lourdes Reyes, GR No. 154645, July 13, 2004) The sale of conjugal property requires the consent of both the husband and the wife. The absence of the consent of one renders the sale null and void, while the vitiation thereof makes it merely voidable. Only in the latter case can ratification cure the defect. (Sps. Guiang v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 125172, June 26, 1998) Under the New Civil Code, a wife may bind the conjugal partnership only when she purchases things necessary for the support of the family, or when she borrows money for that purpose upon her husband’s failure to deliver the needed sum; when administration of the conjugal partnership is transferred to the wife by the courts or by the husband; or when the wife gives moderate donations for charity. (Spouses Go v. Leonardo Yamane, GR No. 160762, May 3, 2006) Custody of Children The general rule that children under seven years of age shall not be separated from their mother finds its raison d’etre in the basic need of minor children for their mother’s loving care. (Pablo-Gualberto v. Gualberto V, GR Nos. 154994 & 156254, June 28, 2005) The principle of “best interest of the child” pervades Philippine cases involving adoption, guardianship, support, personal status, minors in conflict with the law, and child custody. In these cases, it has long been recognized that in choosing the parent to whom custody is given, the welfare of the minors should always be the paramount consideration. Courts are mandated to take into account all relevant circumstances that would have a bearing on the children’s well-being and development. (Pablo-Gualberto v. Gualberto V, GR Nos. 154994 & 156254, June 28, 2005) The so-called “tender-age presumption” under Article 213 of the Family Code may be overcome only by compelling evidence of the mother’s unfitness. The mother has been declared unsuitable to have custody of her children in one or more of the following instances: neglect, abandonment, unemployment, immorality, habitual drunkenness, drug addiction, maltreatment of the child, insanity or affliction with a communicable disease. (Pablo-Gualberto v. Gualberto V, GR Nos. 154994 & 156254, June 28, 2005) The award of temporary custody, as the term implies, is provisional and subject to change as circumstances may warrant. (Pablo-Gualberto v. Gualberto V, GR Nos. 154994 & 156254, June 28, 2005) Donations The prohibition against donations between spouses must likewise apply to donations between persons living together in illicit relations; otherwise, the latter would be better situated than the former. (Milagros Joaquino v. Lourdes Reyes, GR No. 154645, July 13, 2004)

Family Home Under the Family Code, which took effect on August 3, 1988, the subject property became his family home under the simplified process embodied in Article 153 of said Code. However, Modequillo explicitly ruled that said provision of the Family Code does not have retroactive effect. In other words, prior to August 3, 1988, the procedure mandated by the Civil Code had to be followed for a family home to be constituted as such. There being absolutely no proof that the subject property was judicially or extrajudicially constituted as a family home, it follows that the law’s protective mantle cannot be availed of by petitioner. Since the debt involved herein was incurred and the assailed orders of the trial court issued prior to August 3, 1988, the petitioner cannot be shielded by the benevolent provisions of the Family Code. (Manacop v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 97898, August 11, 1997) The law explicitly provides that occupancy of the family home either by the owner thereof or by “any of its beneficiaries” must be actual. That which is “actual” is something real, or actually existing, as opposed to something merely possible, or to something which is presumptive or constructive. (Manacop v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 97898, August 11, 1997) Actual occupancy, however, need not be by the owner of the house specifically. Rather, the property may be occupied by the “beneficiaries” enumerated by Article 154 of the Family Code. “Art. 154. The beneficiaries of a family home are: (1) The husband and wife, or an unmarried person who is the head of the family; and (2) Their parents, ascendants, descendants, brothers and sisters, whether the relationship be legitimate or illegitimate, who are living in the family home and who depend upon the head of the family for lead support.” This enumeration may include the in-laws where the family home is constituted jointly by the husband and wife. But the law definitely excludes maids and overseers. They are not the beneficiaries contemplated by the Code. (Manacop v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 97898, August 11, 1997) Filiation Paternity or filiation, or the lack of it, is a relationship that must be judicially established. It stands to reason that children born within wedlock are legitimate. (Voltaire Arbolario v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 129163, April 22, 2003) Questions as to the determination of the heirs of a decedent, the proof of filiation, and the determination of the estate of a decedent and claims thereto should be brought up before the proper probate court or in special proceedings instituted for the purpose. Such issues cannot be adjudicated in an ordinary civil action for the recovery of ownership and possession. (Voltaire Arbolario v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 129163, April 22, 2003; Milagros Joaquino v. Lourdes Reyes, GR No. 154645, July 13, 2004)) Illegitimate Children Having been born outside a valid marriage, the minor is deemed an illegitimate child. Article 176 of the Family Code of the Philippines explicitly provides that “illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code.” This is the rule regardless of whether the father admits paternity.

The fine distinctions among the various types of illegitimate children have been eliminated in the Family Code. Now, there are only two classes of children -- legitimate (and those who, like the legally adopted, have the rights of legitimate children) and illegitimate. All children conceived and born outside a valid marriage are illegitimate, unless the law itself gives them legitimate status. (Joey D. Briones v. Maricel P. Miguel, GR No. 156343, October 13, 2004) David v. Court of Appeals held that the recognition of an illegitimate child by the father could be a ground for ordering the latter to give support to, but not custody of, the child. The law explicitly confers to the mother sole parental authority over an illegitimate child; it follows that only if she defaults can the father assume custody and authority over the minor. (Joey D. Briones v. Maricel P. Miguel, GR No. 156343, October 13, 2004) Illegitimate children who were still minors at the time the Family Code took effect and whose putative parent died during their minority are thus given the right to seek recognition (under Article 285 of the Civil Code) for a period of up to four years from attaining majority age. This vested right was not impaired or taken away by the passage of the Family Code. Indeed, our overriding consideration is to protect the vested rights of minors who could not have filed suit, on their own, during the lifetime of their putative parents. The minor must be given his day in court. (Ernestina Bernabe v. Carolina Alejo, GR No. 140500, January 21, 2002) Indeed, it is hardly fair to stigmatize and create social and successional prejudice against children who had no fault in nor control over the marital impediments, which bedeviled their parents. They are the victims, not the perpetrators, of these vagaries of life. Why then should they suffer their consequences? In the final analysis, there are really no illegitimate children; there are only illegitimate parents. And this dissent finds its philosophy in this: that children, unarguably born and reared innocent in this world, should benefit by every intendment of the law, particularly where — as in this case — their parents, who originally suffered from a marital impediment, would now want to overcome the improvident social and successional consequences of such condition. Therefore, it is most unfair that these innocent children should be suffering the consequences of the consequences of the impediment they did not cause, when the very impediment itself has disappeared. (Dissent in De Santos v. Angeles, GR No. 105619, December 12, 1995) Marriage License It has been established that Dr. Jacob and petitioner lived together as husband and wife for at least five years. An affidavit to this effect was executed by Dr. Jacob and petitioner. Clearly then, the marriage was exceptional in character and did not require a marriage license under Article 76 of the Civil Code. (Tomasa Vda. De Jacob v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 135216, August 19, 1999) Natural Child A “natural child” is one whose parents, at the time of conception, were not disqualified by any legal impediment from marrying each other. (Ernestina Bernabe v. Carolina Alejo, GR No. 140500, January 21, 2002)

Parental Authority Only the most compelling of reasons, such as the mother’s unfitness to exercise sole parental authority, shall justify her deprivation of parental authority and the award of custody to someone else. In the past, the following grounds have been considered ample justification to deprive a mother of custody and parental authority: neglect or abandonment, unemployment, immorality, habitual drunkenness, drug addiction, maltreatment of the child, insanity, and affliction with a communicable disease. (Joey D. Briones v. Maricel P. Miguel, GR No. 156343, October 13, 2004) Paraphernal Property Properties acquired during the marriage are presumed to be conjugal. However, this prima facie presumption cannot prevail over the cadastral court’s specific finding, reached in adversarial proceedings, that the lot was inherited (Jessie V. Pisueña v. Heirs of Villar, GR No. 132803, August 31, 1999)

Property Relations Under Article 145 [of the Civil Code of the Philippines], a conjugal partnership of gains (CPG) is created upon marriage and lasts until the legal union is dissolved by death, annulment, legal separation or judicial separation of property. Conjugal properties are by law owned in common by the husband and wife. As to what constitutes such properties are laid out in Article 153 of the Code. Moreover, under Article 160 of the Code, all properties of the marriage, unless proven to pertain to the husband or the wife exclusively, are presumed to belong to the CPG. (Milagros Joaquino v. Lourdes Reyes, GR No. 154645, July 13, 2004) Article 144 of the Civil Code applies only to a relationship between a man and a woman who are not incapacitated to marry each other, or to one in which the marriage of the parties is void from the beginning. It does not apply to a cohabitation that amounts to adultery or concubinage, for it would be absurd to create a co-ownership where there exists a prior conjugal partnership or absolute community between the man and his lawful wife. (Guillerma Tumlos v. Spouses Fernandez, GR No. 137650, April 12, 2000; Milagros Joaquino v. Lourdes Reyes, GR No. 154645, July 13, 2004) The nature of a property -- whether conjugal or paraphernal -- is determined by law and not by the will of one of the spouses. Thus, no unilateral declaration by one spouse can change the character of a conjugal property. (Spouses Go v. Leonardo Yamane, GR No. 160762, May 3, 2006) When a common-law couple have a legal impediment to marriage, only the property acquired by them -- through their actual joint contribution of money, property or industry -- shall be owned by them in common and in proportion to their respective contributions. (Milagros Joaquino v. Lourdes Reyes, GR No. 154645, July 13, 2004) Psychological Incapacity Mere showing of “irreconcilable differences” and “conflicting personalities” in no wise constitutes psychological incapacity. It is not enough to prove that the

parties failed to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological (not physical) illness. (Republic v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 108763, February 13, 1997) Status of Persons W]here the effect of a correction of an entry in a civil registry will change the status of a person from “legitimate” to “illegitimate,” the same cannot be granted in summary proceedings. (Republic v. Labrador, GR No. 132980, March 25, 1999) Corrections involving the nationality or citizenship of a person were substantial and could not be effected except in adversarial proceedings. (Republic v. Labrador, GR No. 132980, March 25, 1999) Visitorial Right In Silva v. Court of Appeals, the Court sustained the visitorial right of an illegitimate father over his children in view of the constitutionally protected inherent and natural right of parents over their children. Even when the parents are estranged and their affection for each other is lost, their attachment to and feeling for their offspring remain unchanged. Neither the law nor the courts allow this affinity to suffer, absent any real, grave or imminent threat to the well-being of the child. (Joey D. Briones v. Maricel P. Miguel, GR No. 156343, October 13, 2004)

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