GR No. 104818, 17 September 1993
Soledad Domingo, married with Roberto Domingo in 1976, filed a petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage and separation of property. She did not know that Domingo had been previously married to Emerlinda dela Paz in 1969. She came to know the previous marriage when the latter filed a suit of bigamy against her. Furthermore, when she came home from Saudi during her one-month leave from work, she discovered that Roberto cohabited with another woman and had been disposing some of her properties which is administered by Roberto. The latter claims that because their marriage was void ab initio, the declaration of such voidance is unnecessary and superfluous. On the other hand, Soledad insists the declaration of the nullity of marriage not for the purpose of remarriage, but in order to provide a basis for the separation and distribution of properties acquired during the marriage.
Whether or not a petition for judicial declaration should only be filed for purposes of remarriage.
The declaration of the nullity of marriage is indeed required for purposed of remarriage. However, it is also necessary for the protection of the subsequent spouse who believed in good faith that his or her partner was not lawfully married marries the same. With this, the said person is freed from being charged with bigamy.
When a marriage is declared void ab initio, law states that final judgment shall provide for the liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses, the custody and support of the common children and the delivery of their presumptive legitimes, unless such matters had been adjudicated in previous judicial proceedings. Other specific effects flowing therefrom, in proper cases, are the following:
Art. 43. xxx xxx xxx
(2) The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as the case may be, shall be dissolved and liquidated, but if either spouse contracted said marriage in bad faith, his or her share of the net profits of the community property or conjugal partnership property shall be forfeited in favor of the common children or, if there are none, the children of the guilty spouse by a previous marriage or, in default of children, the innocent spouse;
(3) Donations by reason of marriage shall remain valid, except that if the donee contracted the marriage in bad faith, such donations made to said donee are revoked by operation of law;
(4) The innocent spouse may revoke the designation of the other spouse who acted in bad faith as a beneficiary in any insurance policy, even if such designation be stipulated as irrevocable; and
(5) The spouse who contracted the subsequent marriage in bad faith shall be disqualified to inherit from the innocent spouse by testate and intestate succession. (n)
Art. 44. If both spouses of the subsequent marriage acted in bad faith, said marriage shall be void ab initio and all donations by reason of marriage and testamentary disposition made by one in favor of the other are revoked by operation of law.
Soledad’s prayer for separation of property will simply be the necessary consequence of the judicial declaration of absolute nullity of their marriage. Hence, the petitioner’s suggestion that for their properties be separated, an ordinary civil action has to be instituted for that purpose is baseless. The Family Code has clearly provided the effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage, one of which is the separation of property according to the regime of property relations governing them.
* Case digest by Prince Dave C. Santiago , LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018