G.R. No. 82606, 18 December 1992
The petitioner, Prima Partosa-Jo, is the legal wife of Jose Jo, herein private respondent. The latter admitted to have cohabited with 3 women and fathered 15 children. Prima filed a complaint against the husband for judicial separation of conjugal property in addition to an earlier action for support which was consolidated. RTC decision was a definite disposition of the complaint for support but none of that for the judicial separation of conjugal property. Jose elevated the decision to CA which affirmed rulings of the trial court. The complaint on the separation of property was dismissed for lack of cause of action on the ground that separation by agreement was not covered in Art. 178 of the Civil Code. Prima contested that the agreement between her and Jose was for her to temporarily live with her parents during the initial period of her pregnancy and for him to visit and support her. They never agreed to be separated permanently. She even returned to him but the latter refused to accept her.
WON there is abandonment on the part of Jose Jo to warrant judicial separation of conjugal property.
The petition was granted and in favor of the petitioner and that the court ordered the conjugal property of the spouses be divided between them, share and share alike. The division will be implemented after the determination of all the properties pertaining to the said conjugal partnership including those that may have been illegally registered in the name of the persons. SC is in the position that respondent court should have made the necessary modification instead of dismissing the case filed.
Art. 178. The separation in fact between husband and wife without judicial approval, shall not affect the conjugal partnership, except that:
(3) If the husband has abandoned the wife without just cause for at least one year, she may petition the court for a receivership, or administration by her of the conjugal partnership property or separation of property.
For abandonment to exist there must be an absolute cessation of marital relations, duties and rights, with the intention of perpetual separation. The fact that Jo did not accept her demonstrates that he had no intention of resuming their conjugal relationship. From 1968 until 1988, Jose refused to provide financial support to Prima. Hence, the physical separation of the parties, coupled with the refusal by the private respondent to give support to the petitioner, sufficed to constitute abandonment as a ground for the judicial separation of their conjugal property.
* Case digest by Jason S. Olasiman, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018