G.R. No. 119064, 22 August 2000
Abdula contracted marriage with Aida and had 3 sons with her. Abdula then married for a second time with Jubaida and no child was born out of that marriage. Abdula divorced Aida. Abdula then married Nayo and they also had no child. Thereafter, he contracted another marriage with Mabay and had a daughter with her. Not long after, Abdula married 3 other Muslim women but eventually divorced them. Abdula then married his 4th wife Neng, excluding the wives he divorced. They were childless. Abdula died without leaving a will.
What law governs?
The Civil Code since the Muslim Code has not yet taken effect. Abdula died intestate on December 1993. It is the Muslim Code which should determine the identification of the heirs in the order of intestate succession and the respective shares of the heirs.
The Muslim Code took effect on February 4, 1977. If a Muslim died before the effectivity of the Muslim Code, the order of succession shall be governed by the Civil Code. The status and capacity to succeed on the part of the individual parties who entered into each and every marriage ceremony will depend upon the law in force at the time of the performance of the marriage rite.
If the Muslim marriage took place during the effectivity of the Civil Code and before the effectivity of the Muslim Code, he cannot marry again because under the Civil Code, only one marriage is valid. But when the marriage took place when the Muslim Code has taken effect, subsequent marriages are allowed and valid.
The right of the spouses to inherit will depend on whether or not they have been validly married. If they are not validly married, then they do not have successional rights over their partner. The status and capacity to succeed of the children will depend upon the law in force at the time of conception or birth of the child. As to property relations, it is the Civil Code that determines and governs the property relations of the marriages in this case, for the reason that at the time of the celebration of the marriages in question, the Civil Code was the only on marriage relations, including property relations between spouses, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.
* Case digest by Gretchen Rina A. Lim, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018