Respondent Filomena Gaviana Macadangdang and petitioner Antonio Macadangdang were married in 1946 after having lived together for two years and had 6 children. They started a buy and sell business and sari-sari store in Davao City. Through hard work and good fortune, their business grew and expanded into merchandising, trucking, transportation, rice and corn mill business, abaca stripping, real estate etc. Their relationship became complicated and both indulged in extramarital relations. Married life became intolerable so they separated in 1965 when private respondent left for Cebu for good. When she returned in Davao in 1971, she learned of the illicit affairs of her estranged husband. She then decided to take the initial action. In April 1971, she instituted a complaint for legal separation.
Whether or not the death of a spouse after a final decree of legal separation has effect on the legal separation.
The death of a spouse after a final decree of legal separation has no effect on the legal separation. When the decree itself is issued, the finality of the separation is complete after the lapse of the period to appeal the decision to a higher court even if the effects, such as the liquidation of the property, have not yet been commenced nor terminated.
The law clearly spells out the effect of a final decree of legal separation on the conjugal property. Therefore, upon the liquidation and distribution conformably with the effects of such final decree, the law on intestate succession should take over the disposition of whatever remaining properties have been allocated to the deceased spouse.
Such dissolution and liquidation are necessary consequences of the final decree. Article 106 of the Civil Code, now Article 63 of the Family Code provides the effects of the decree of legal separation. These legal effects ipso facto or automatically follows, as an inevitable incident of the judgment decreeing legal separation, for the purpose of determining the share of each spouse in the conjugal assets.
* Case digest by Lea A. Caipang, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018