Wong v. Intermediate Appellate Court

G.R. No. 70082, 19 August 1991

FACTS:

Romario Henson married Katrina on January 1964. They had 3 children however, even during the early years of their marriage; the spouses had been most of the time living separately. During the marriage or on about January 1971, the husband bought a parcel of land in Angeles from his father using the money borrowed from an officemate. Sometime in June 1972, Katrina entered an agreement with Anita Chan where the latter consigned the former pieces of jewelry valued at P321, 830.95. Katrina failed to return the same within the 20 day period thus Anita demanded payment of their value. Katrina issued in September 1972, check of P55, 000 which was dishonored due to lack of funds.

The spouses Anita Chan and Ricky Wong filed action for collection of the sum of money against Katrina and her husband Romarico. The reply with counterclaim filed was only in behalf of Katrina. Trial court ruled in favor of the Wongs then a writ of execution was thereafter issued upon the 4 lots in Angeles City all in the name of Romarico Henson married to Katrina Henson. 2 of the lots were sold at public auction to Juanito Santos and the other two with Leonardo Joson. A month before such redemption, Romarico filed an action for annulment of the decision including the writ and levy of execution.

ISSUE:

WON debt of the wife without the knowledge of the husband can be satisfied through the conjugal property.

RULING:

The spouses had in fact been separated when the wife entered into the business deal with Anita. The husband had nothing to do with the business transactions of Katrina nor authorized her to enter into such. The properties in Angeles were acquired during the marriage with unclear proof where the husband obtained the money to repay the loan. Hence, it is presumed to belong in the conjugal partnership in the absence of proof that they are exclusive property of the husband and even though they had been living separately.

Under the Civil Code (before the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988), a wife may bind the conjugal partnership only when she purchases things necessary for the support of the family or when she borrows money for the purpose of purchasing things necessary for the support of the family if the husband fails to deliver the proper sum; when the administration of the conjugal partnership is transferred to the wife by the courts or by the husband and when the wife gives moderate donations for charity.

The conjugal properties cannot answer for Katrina’s obligations as she exclusively incurred the latter without the consent of her husband nor they did redound to the benefit of the family. There was also no evidence submitted that the administration of the partnership had been transferred to Katrina by Romarico before said obligations were incurred. In as much as the decision was void only in so far as Romarico and the conjugal properties concerned, Spouses Wong may still execute the debt against Katrina, personally and exclusively.

* Case digest by Aileen B. Buenafe , LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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