Dela Cruz v. Dela Cruz

G.R. No. L-19565, 30 January 1968

FACTS:

Estrella, the plaintiff, and Severino, the defendant was married in Bacolod and begotten 6 children. During their coverture, they acquired several parcels of land and were engage in various businesses. The plaintiff filed an action against her husband for the separation of their properties. She further alleged that her husband aside from abandoning her also mismanaged their conjugal properties.

On the other hand, Severino contended that he had always visited the conjugal home and had provided support for the family despite his frequent absences when he was in Manila to supervise the expansion of their business. Since 1955, he had not slept in the conjugal dwelling instead stayed in his office at Texboard Factory although he paid short visits in the conjugal home, which was affirmed by Estrella. The latter suspected that her husband had a mistress named Nenita Hernandez, hence, the urgency of the separation of property for the fear that her husband might squander and dispose the conjugal assets in favor of the concubine.

ISSUE:

Whether or not there has been abandonment on the part of the husband and whether or not there has been an abused of his authority as administrator of the conjugal partnership.

RULING:

No. The husband has never desisted in the fulfillment of his marital obligations and support of the family.

To be legally declared as to have abandoned the conjugal home, one must have willfully and with intention of not coming back and perpetual separation. The law provides that there must be real abandonment and not mere separation. The abandonment must not only be physical estrangement but also amount to financial and moral desertion.Therefore, physical separation alone is not the full meaning of the term “abandonment”, if the husband, despite his voluntary departure from the society of his spouse, neither neglects the management of the conjugal partnership nor ceases to give support to his wife.

In the case at bar, the Court believed that the defendant did not intend to leave his wife and children permanently. Thus, the SC held that lower court erred in holding that mere refusal or failure of the husband as administrator of the conjugal partnership to inform the wife of the progress of the business constitutes abuse of administration. In order for abuse to exist, there must be a willful and utter disregard of the interest of the partnership evidenced by a repetition of deliberate acts or omissions prejudicial to the latter.

* Case digest by Vera L. Nataa, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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