Roehr v. Rodriguez

G.R. No. 142820, 20 June 2003

FACTS:

Wife Rodriguez filed for declaration of nullity of marriage, which was subsequently moved for dismissal by husband Roehr, a German national. Pending decision, the husband obtained a decree of divorce from a German Court, providing for (1) the dissolution of their marriage and (2) the grant of parental custody of the children to Roehr.

Thereafter, wife moved for partial reconsideration with a prayer that the case proceed for the purpose of determining the issues of custody of children and the distribution of the properties between the Roehr and Rodriguez. Motion was granted and thus challenged by Roehr.

ISSUE:

W/N there is nothing left to be tackled by the Court since there are no conjugal properties alleged in the annulment and the divorce decree provides for the finality of the custody of children.

RULING:

No. As a general rule, divorce decrees obtained by foreigners in other countries are recognizable in our jurisdiction, but the legal effects thereof, e.g. on custody, care and support of the children, must be determined by our courts. The Court held that before our courts can give the effect of res judicata to a foreign judgment, such as the award of custody to petitioner by the German court, it must be shown that the parties opposed to the judgment had been given ample opportunity to do so on grounds allowed under Rule 39, Section 50 of the Rules of Court.

Pursuant to Article 26 of the Family Code, where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. (As amended by Executive Order 227)

Moreover, Section 50 of the Rules of Court states that the effect of a judgment of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment is as follows:

(a) In case of a judgment upon a specific thing, the judgment is conclusive upon the title to the thing;

(b) In case of a judgment against a person, the judgment is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title; but the judgment may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.

Since the proceedings in the German court were summary, the wife was not given opportunity to challenge said judgment. Therefore, the divorce decree did not provide for the finality of the custody of children.

* Case digest by Immanuel Y. Granada, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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