G.R. No. 145222, 24 April 2009
On April 30 1984, Spouses Roberto and Venus Buado, petitioners, filed a complaint for damages against Erlinda Nicol for her civil liability arising from criminal offense of slander filed by petitioners. Trial court rendered a decision to let Erlinda Nicol pay for damages. Finding Erlinda Nicol‘s personal properties insufficient to satisfy the judgment. The sheriff levied and auctioned the property of Erlinda. An auction sale was held with the petitioners as the highest bidder. A certificate of sale was issued in favor of Mr. and Mrs. Buado. After almost one year, the husband of Erlinda, Romulo Nicol, filed a complaint for the annulment of certificate of sale and damages with preliminary injunction against petitioners and deputy sheriff. He argued that there was no proper publication and posting for the auction sale. He also claimed that the judgment obligation of Erlinda Nicol amounted to P40,000 only. The spouses Buado obtained the P500, 000 worth of property for only P51,685. The Regional Trial Court dismissed the petition of Romulo Nicol.
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the RTC and held that Branch 21 has jurisdiction to act on the complaint filed by the respondent in this case. The petitioners filed a petition where they said that the Court of Appeals committed a grave abuse of discretion for reversing the decision given by the RTC.
Whether or not the obligation of Erlinda Nicol arising from her criminal liability is chargeable to the conjugal partnership.
NO. Erlinda Nicol‟s liability is not chargeable to the conjugal partnership.
There is no dispute that contested property is conjugal in nature. Article 122 of the Family Code explicitly provides that payment of personal debts contracted by the husband or the wife before or during the marriage shall not be charged to the conjugal partnership except insofar as they redounded to the benefit of the family.Unlike in the system of absolute community where liabilities incurred by either spouse by reason of a crime or quasi-delict is chargeable to the absolute community of property, in the absence or insufficiency of the exclusive property of the debtor-spouse, the same advantage is not accorded in the system of conjugal partnership of gains. The conjugal partnership of gains has no duty to make advance payments for the liability of the debtor-spouse.
Petitioners argue that the obligation of the wife arising from her criminal liability is chargeable to the conjugal partnership. In Guadalupe v. Tronco, this Court held that the car which was claimed by the third party complainant to be conjugal property was being levied upon to enforce “a judgment for support” filed by a third person, the third-party claim of the wife is proper since the obligation which is personal to the husband is chargeable not on the conjugal property but on his separate property. Hence, the filing of a separate action by Romulo Nicol was proper. The decision of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.
* Case digest by Aisha Mie Faith M. Fernandez, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018