G.R. No. 125041, 30 June 2006
On 17 March 1994, Ma. Belen B. Mangonon filed, in behalf of her then minor children Rica and Rina, a Petition for Declaration of Legitimacy and Support, with application for support pendente lite with the RTC Makati. In said petition, it was alleged that on 16 February 1975, petitioner and respondent Federico Delgado were civilly married by then City Court Judge Eleuterio Agudo in Legaspi City, Albay. At that time, petitioner was only 21 years old while respondent Federico was only 19 years old. As the marriage was solemnized without the required consent per Article 85 of the New Civil Code, it was annulled on 11 August 1975 by the Quezon City Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. On 25 March 1976, or within seven months after the annulment of their marriage, petitioner gave birth to twins Rica and Rina. According to petitioner, she, with the assistance of her second husband Danny Mangonon, raised her twin daughters as private respondents had totally abandoned them. At the time of the institution of the petition, Rica and Rina were about to enter college in the United States of America (USA) where petitioner, together with her daughters and second husband, had moved to and finally settled in. Rica was admitted to the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) while Rina was accepted by the Long Island University and Western New England College. Despite their admissions to said universities, Rica and Rina were, however, financially incapable of pursuing collegiate education.
1. Whether Francisco is obliged to support Rica and Rina.
2. Whether Francisco can avail of the option under Article 204 anent his obligation.
1. Yes. Francisco is obliged to support his granddaughters Rica and Rina in default of the father.
Pursuant to Article 199 of the Family Code, whenever two or more persons are obliged to give support, the liability shall devolve upon the following persons in the order herein provided:
(1) The spouse;
(2) The descendants in the nearest degree;
(3) The ascendants in the nearest degree; and
(4) The brothers and sisters.
There being prima facie evidence showing that petitioner and respondent Federico are the parents of Rica and Rina, petitioner and respondent Federico are primarily charged to support their children’s college education. In view however of their incapacities, the obligation to furnish said support should be borne by respondent Francisco as the next immediate relative of Rica and Rina.
2. No. Francisco cannot avail of the option under Article 204 anent his obligation.
Article 204 of the Family Code provides that the person obliged to give support shall have the option to fulfill the obligation either by paying the allowance fixed, or by receiving and maintaining in the family dwelling the person who has a right to receive support. The latter alternative cannot be availed of in case there is a moral or legal obstacle thereto.
In this case, this Court believes that respondent Francisco could not avail himself of the second option. With the filing of this case, and the allegations hurled at one another by the parties, the relationships among the parties had certainly been affected. Particularly difficult for Rica and Rina must be the fact that those who they had considered and claimed as family denied having any familial relationship with them. Given the moral obstacle, the Court could not see Rica and Rina moving back to the Philippines in the company of those who have disowned them.
* Case digest by Immanuel Y. Granada, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018