Civil Law

Recent Rulings on FAMILY CODE [Article 26, Conjugal Partnership of Gains, Parental Authority, Psychological Incapacity, Proof of Filiation]

The Family Code (E.O. NO. 209), As Amended by R.A. NO. 9255

Article 26 –– In this case, We find that Par. 2 of Art. 26 violates one of the essential requisites of the equal protection clause; particularly, the limitation of the provision only to a foreign divorce decree initiated by the alien spouse is unreasonable as it is based on superficial, arbitrary, and whimsical classification; there is no real and substantial difference between a Filipino who initiated a foreign divorce proceedings and a Filipino who obtained a divorce decree upon the instance of his or her alien spouse. (Rep. of the Phils. vs. Manalo, G.R. No. 221029, April 24, 2018)

Marriages –– A special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life and as the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution. (Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018)

Presumptive death –– The petition for the declaration of presumptive death filed by petitioner is not an action that would have warranted the application of Art. 41 of the FC because petitioner was not seeking to remarry; a reading of Art. 41 of the FC shows that the presumption of death established therein is only applicable for the purpose of contracting a valid subsequent marriage under the said law; in her petition for the declaration of presumptive death, petitioner categorically stated that the same was filed “not for any other purpose but solely to claim for the benefit under P.D. No. 1638 as amended”; Arts. 390 and 391 of the Civil Code express the general rule regarding presumptions of death for any civil purpose. (Tadeo-Matias vs. Rep. of the Phils., G.R. No. 230751, April 25, 2018)

Psychological incapacity –– Habitual drunkenness, gambling and failure to find a job, while undoubtedly negative traits, are nowhere nearly the equivalent of psychological incapacity, in the absence of incontrovertible proof that these are manifestations of an incapacity rooted in some debilitating psychological condition or illness. (Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018)

––      ‘Psychological incapacity,’ as a ground to nullify a marriage under Art. 36 of the Family Code, should refer to no less than a mental, not merely physical, incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed in Art. 68 of the Family Code, among others, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. (Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018)

––      Psychological incapacity must be characterized by: (a) gravity (i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage); (b) juridical antecedence (i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage); and (c) incurability (i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved). (Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018)

––      Psychological incapacity under Art. 36 of the  Family Code contemplates an incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume basic marital obligations, and is not merely the difficulty, refusal, or neglect in the performance of marital obligations or ill will. (Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018)

––      The parties’ child is not a very reliable witness in an Art. 36 case as he could not have been there when the spouses were married and could not have been expected to know what was happening between his parents until long after his birth. (Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018)

––      There must be proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor that effectively incapacitated the respondent spouse from complying with the basic marital obligations; a cause has to be shown and linked with the manifestations of the psychological incapacity. (Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018)

––      To support the Art. 36 petition, petitioner ought to have adduced convincing, competent and trustworthy evidence to establish the cause of respondent’s alleged psychological incapacity and that the same antedated their marriage. (Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018)

Void marriages –– The validity of marriage and the unity of the family are enshrined in our Constitution and statutory laws, hence any doubts attending the same are to be resolved in favor of the continuance and validity of the marriage and that the burden of proving the nullity of the same rests at all times upon the petitioner. (Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018)

Article 130 — Applicable to conjugal partnership of gains established between the spouses prior to the effectivity of the Family Code. (Uy [Cabangbang Store] vs. Estate of Vipa Fernandez, G.R. No. 200612, April 05, 2017)

—      The disposition of conjugal partnership properties by the surviving spouse is not necessarily void notwithstanding the absence of liquidation; rights of the surviving spouse as well as the heirs of the deceased spouse to the conjugal partnership properties, discussed; the buyer of the undivided share became a co-owner of the subject property who has the right to possess the same. (Uy [Cabangbang Store] vs. Estate of Vipa Fernandez, G.R. No. 200612, April 05, 2017)

Conjugal partnership of gains — 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; however, the presumption under said article applies only when there is proof that the property was acquired during the marriage; proof of acquisition during the marriage is an essential condition for the operation of the presumption in favor of the conjugal partnership. (Sps. Orsolino vs. Frany, G.R. No. 193887, Mar. 29, 2017)

—      Any alienation or encumbrance of conjugal property made during the effectivity of the Family Code is governed by Art. 124 thereof; in the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the administration of the conjugal properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers of administration; disposition or encumbrance without authority of the court or the written consent of the other spouse shall be void. (Alejo vs. Sps. Ernesto Cortez and Priscilla San Pedro, G.R. No. 206114, June 19, 2017)

—      It is settled that where the other spouse’s putative consent to the sale of the conjugal property appears in a separate document which does not contain the same terms and conditions as in the first document signed by the other spouse, a valid transaction could not have arisen; participation in or awareness of the negotiations is not consent. (Alejo vs. Sps. Ernesto Cortez and Priscilla San Pedro, G.R. No. 206114, June 19, 2017)

—      Loan obligation of spouses married before the effectivity of the Family Code shall be chargeable to their conjugal partnership of gains. (Delos Santos vs. Abejon, G.R. No. 215820, Mar. 20, 2017)

—      The sale (or encumbrance) of conjugal property without the consent of the husband was not merely voidable but void; hence, it could not be ratified; a void contract is equivalent to nothing and is absolutely wanting in civil effects; it cannot be validated either by ratification or prescription. (Dadis vs. Sps. De Guzman, G.R. No. 206008, June 07, 2017)

Proof of filiation — Birth certificates offer prima facie evidence of filiation; to overthrow the presumption of truth contained in a birth certificate, a high degree of proof is needed. (Ara vs. Dr. Pizarro, G.R. No. 187273, Feb. 15, 2017)

—      Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the same evidence as legitimate children; a person who seeks to establish illegitimate filiation after the death of a putative parent must do so via a record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment, or an admission of legitimate filiation; even without a record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment, filiation may still be established after the death of a putative parent through an admission of filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument, signed by the parent concerned. (Ara vs. Dr. Pizarro, G.R. No. 187273, Feb. 15, 2017)

Psychological incapacity — An expert opinion is not absolutely necessary and may be dispensed with in a petition under Art. 36 of the Family Code if the totality of the evidence shows that psychological incapacity exists and its gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability can be duly established; the evidence need not necessarily come from the allegedly incapacitated spouse, but can come from persons intimately related to the spouses, i.e., relatives and close friends, who could clearly testify on the allegedly incapacitated spouse’s condition at or about the time of the marriage; irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility and the like, do not by themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity, as these may only be due to a person’s difficulty, refusal, or neglect to undertake the obligations of marriage that is not rooted in some psychological illness that Art. 36 of the Family Code addresses. (Del Rosario vs. Del Rosario, G.R. No. 222541, Feb. 15, 2017)

—      Psychological incapacity as a ground to nullify the marriage under Art. 36of the Family Code, as amended, should refer to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage; it should refer to no less than a mental, not merely physical, incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage, which, as provided under Art. 68 of the Family Code, among others, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity, and render help and support. (Del Rosario vs. Del Rosario, G.R. No. 222541, Feb. 15, 2017)

—      Psychological incapacity must be more than just a “difficulty”, “refusal” or “neglect” in the performance of the marital obligations; it is not enough that a party prove that the other failed to meet the responsibility and duty of a married person; there must be proof of 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 which must be linked with the manifestations of the psychological incapacity. (Del Rosario vs. Del Rosario, G.R. No. 222541, Feb. 15, 2017)

—      Psychological incapacity under Art. 36 of the Family Code must be characterized by: (a) gravity, i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage; (b) juridical antecedence, i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and (c) incurability,  i.e., it must be incurable, or otherwise the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved. (Del Rosario vs. Del Rosario, G.R. No. 222541, Feb. 15, 2017)

Filiation — A baptismal certificate has evidentiary value to prove kinship if considered alongside other evidence of filiation; even if the marriage contract therein stated that the alleged father of the bride was the bride’s father, that document could not be taken as evidence of filiation, because it was not signed by the alleged father of the bride. (Heirs of Gilberto Roldan vs. Heirs of Silvela Roldan, G.R. No. 202578, Sept. 27, 2017)

Parental authority — No child under seven years of age shall be separated from the mother; 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; the mother’s fitness is a question of fact to be properly entertained in the special proceedings before the trial court. (Recto vs. Hon. Trocino, A.M. No. RTJ-17-2508, Nov. 07, 2017)

Paternity and filiation –– Upon the effectivity of R.A. No. 9255, the provision that illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother was retained, with an added provision that they may use the surname of their father if their filiation has been expressly recognized by their father. (In the Matter of Petition for Cancellation of Certificates of Live Birth of Yuhares Jan Barcelote Tinitigan and Avee Kynna Noelle Barcelote Tinitigan, G.R. No. 222095, Aug. 07, 2017)

Psychological incapacity — In Marcos v. Marcos, the actual medical examination of the one claimed to have psychological incapacity is not a condition sine qua non, for what matters is the totality of evidence to sustain a finding of such psychological incapacity. (Lontoc-Cruz vs. Santos Cruz, G.R. No. 201988, Oct. 11, 2017)

—      Mere showing of ‘irreconcilable differences’ and ‘conflicting personalities’ as in the present case, in no wise constitutes psychological incapacity; nor does failure of the parties to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons amount to psychological incapacity; elucidated; requisites. (Lontoc-Cruz vs. Santos Cruz, G.R. No. 201988, Oct. 11, 2017)

—      What can be inferred from the totality of evidence, at most, is a case of incompatibility; for a personality disorder to be declared clinically or medically incurable or permanent is one thing; for a spouse to refuse or to be reluctant to perform his/her marital duties is another. (Lontoc-Cruz vs. Santos Cruz, G.R. No. 201988, Oct. 11, 2017)

Support –– The obligation to give support shall only be demandable from the time the person entitled to it needs it for maintenance, but it shall not be paid except from the date of judicial or extrajudicial demand; support pendente lite may also be claimed, in conformity with the manner stipulated by the Rules of Court; an illegitimate child, “conceived and born outside a valid marriage,” as in the admitted case with petitioner’s daughter, is entitled to support; requisite. (Abella vs. Cabañero, G.R. No. 206647, Aug. 09, 2017)

Void marriages — Psychological incapacity must be characterized by: a) gravity (i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage); b) juridical antecedence (i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage); and c) incurability (i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved). (Lontoc-Cruz vs. Santos Cruz, G.R. No. 201988, Oct. 11, 2017)

—      The evidence on record do not square with the existence of psychological incapacity as contemplated by law and jurisprudence; the protagonists are in reality simply unwilling to work out a solution for each other’s personality differences; a marriage, even if unsatisfactory, is not a null and void marriage. (Lontoc-Cruz vs. Santos Cruz, G.R. No. 201988, Oct. 11, 2017)

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