G.R. No. 11263, 2 November 1916
Eloisa Goitia and Jose Campos Rueda were legally married in Manila and thereafter lived together for about a month before petitioner returned to her parent’s home because of the following reasons: (1) Defendant demanded her to perform unchaste and lascivious acts on her genitals; (2) Defendant made other lewd demands; and (3) Defendant maltreated petitioner by word and by deed on the ground that the latter refused to do any of defendant’s demands other than legal and valid cohabitation.
Petitioner filed an action against her husband for support outside their conjugal domicile. The trial court ruled in favor of respondent and stated that Goitia could not compel her husband to support her except in the conjugal home unless it is by virtue of a judicial decree granting her separation or divorce from respondent. Goitia filed motion for review.
Whether or not Goitia can compel her husband to support her outside the conjugal home.
Yes. Campos Rueda was held liable to support his wife. The law provides that the husband, who is obliged to support the wife, may fulfill the obligation either by paying her a fixed pension or by maintaining her in his own home at his option. However, this option given by law is NOT absolute.
This obligation is founded not so much on the express or implied terms of the contract of marriage as on the natural and legal duty of the husband; an obligation, the enforcement of which is of such vital concern to the state itself that the laws will not permit him to terminate it by his own wrongful acts in driving his wife to seek protection in the parental home. A judgment for separate maintenance is not due and payable either as damages or as a penalty; nor is it a debt in the strict legal sense of the term, but rather a judgment calling for the performance of a duty made specific by the mandate of the sovereign. This is done from necessity and with a view to preserve the public peace and the purity of the wife; as where the husband makes so base demands upon his wife and indulges in the habit of assaulting her.
In the case at bar, the wife was forced to leave the conjugal abode because of the lewd designs and physical assault of the husband, she can therefore claim support from the husband for separate maintenance even outside the conjugal home. The pro tanto separation resulting from a decree for separate support is not an impeachment of that public policy by which marriage is regarded as so sacred and inviolable in its nature; it is merely a stronger policy overruling a weaker one; and except in so far only as such separation is tolerated as a means of preserving the public peace and morals may be considered, it does NOT in any respect whatever impair the marriage contract or for any purpose place the wife in the situation of a feme sole.
* Case digest by Vera L. Nataa, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018