G.R. No. 136803, 16 June 2000
Mallilin and Castillo cohabited together while their respective marriage still subsisted. During their union, they set up Superfreight Customs Brokerage Corporation. The business flourished and the couple acquired real and personal properties which were registered solely in Castillo’s name. Due to irreconcilable differences, the couple separated. Mallilin filed a complaint for partition and/or payment of Co-ownership share, accounting and damages against Castillo. Castillo, in her answer, alleged that co-ownership could not exist between them because according to Article 144 of the Civil Code, rules on co-ownership shall govern the properties acquired by a man and a woman living together as husband and wife but not married, they are not capacitated to marry each other because of their valid subsisting marriage. She claimed to be the exclusive owner of all real and personal properties involved in Mallilin’s action of partition on the ground that they were acquired entirely out of her own money and registered solely in her name.
Whether or not co-ownership exists between them.
Yes. Co-ownership exists between Mallilin and Castillo even though they are incapacitated to marry each other.
Art 148 provides that properties acquired through the parties joint contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their contributions which, in the absence of proof to the contrary, is presumed to be equal. The determination of the contributions needs to be made in a judicial proceeding as it requires a finding of facts.
Their union suffered the legal impediment of a prior subsisting marriage. Article 144 of the Civil Code does not cover parties living in an adulterous relationship. Their property regime falls under Article 148 of the Family Code where co-ownership is limited.
* Case digest by Kristine Camille B. Gahuman, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018