G.R. No. L-19671, 29 November 1965
Vicenta Escaño, 27, exchanged marriage vows with Pastor Tenchavez, 32, on February 24, 1948, before a Catholic chaplain. The marriage was duly registered with the local civil registrar. However, the two were unable to live together after the marriage and as of June 1948, they were already estranged. Vicenta left for the United Stated in 1950. On the same year she filed a verified complaint for divorce against Tenchavez in the State of Nevada on the ground of “Extreme cruelty, entirely mental in character.” A decree of divorce, “final and absolute” was issued in open court by the said tribunal. She married an American, lived with him in California, had several children with him and, on 1958, acquired American Citizenship.
On 30 July 1955, Tenchavez filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Cebu, and amended on 31 May 1956, against Vicenta F. Escaño, her parents, Mamerto and Mena Escaño whom he charged with having dissuaded and discouraged Vicenta from joining her husband, and alienating her affections, and against the Roman Catholic Church, for having, through its Diocesan Tribunal, decreed the annulment of the marriage, and asked for legal separation and one million pesos in damages. Vicenta’s parents denied that they had in any way influenced their daughter’s acts, and counterclaimed for moral damages.
1. Whether or not the divorce sought by Vicenta Escaño is valid and binding upon courts of the Philippines.
2. Whether or not the parents of Vicenta alienated the affections of their daughter and influenced her conduct toward her husband.
1. No. Vicenta Escaño and Pastor Tenchavez’ marriage remain existent and undissolved under the Philippine Law.
Pursuant to Article 15 of the Civil Code, laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.
Escaño’s divorce and second marriage cannot be deemed valid under the Philippine Law to which Escaño was bound since in the time the divorce decree was issued, Escaño, like her husband, was still a Filipino citizen. The acts of the wife in not complying with her wifely duties, deserting her husband without any justifiable cause, leaving for the United States in order to secure a decree of absolute divorce, and finally getting married again are acts which constitute a willful infliction of injury upon the husband’s feelings in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy, thus entitling Tenchavez to a decree of legal separation under our law on the basis of adultery.
2. No. There is no evidence that the parents of Vicenta, out of improper motives, aided and abetted her original suit for annulment, or her subsequent divorce.
A portion of Section 529 reads: The law distinguishes between the right of a parent to interest himself in the marital affairs of his child and the absence of rights in a tranger to intermeddle in such affairs. …A parent is liable for alienation of affections resulting from his own malicious conduct, as where he wrongfully entices his son or daughter to leave his or her spouse, but he is not liable unless he acts maliciously, without justification and from unworthy motives.
Therefore, her parents, in respecting Vicenta’s independent decisions, certainly cannot be charged with alienation of affections in the absence of malice or unworthy motives.
* Case digest by Cherrie Mae F. Aguila-Granada , LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018