G.R. No. 132529, 2 February 2001


SPO4 Santiago Cariño married Susan Nicdao in 1969 without marriage license. They had two children. He then married Susan Yee on November 10 1992, with whom he had no children in their almost 10 year cohabitation starting way back in 1982.

He passed away on November 23 1992. The two Susans filed with the RTC of Quezon City the claims for monetary benefits and financial assistance pertaining to the deceased from various government agencies. Nicdao collected a total of P146,000 while Yee received a total of P21,000.

Yee filed an instant case for collection of half the money acquired by Nicdao, collectively denominated as “death benefits.” Yee admitted that her marriage with the SPO4 took place during the subsistence of, and without first obtaining a judicial declaration of nullity, the marriage between Nicdao and the SPO4. She however claimed that she became aware of the previous marriage at the funeral of the deceased.

In 1995, the trial court ruled in favor of Yee. Nicdao appealed to the CA, which the CA affirmed the decision of the trial court.


Whether or not Yee can claim half the amount acquired by Nicdao.


No. SC held that the marriage between Yee and Cariño falls under the Article 148 of the Family Code, which refers to the property regime of bigamous or polygamous marriages, adulterous or concubinage relationships.

As regards to the First marriage between Nicdao and SPO4 Santiago:

Article 147 Family Code-Property Regime of Union without Marriage.

“When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.

In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former’s efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.

Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her share in the property acquired during cohabitation and owned in common, without the consent of the other, until after the termination of their cohabitation.

When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in the co-ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common children. In case of default of or waiver by any or all of the common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the innocent party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation.”

As regards to the Second marriage between Yee and SPO4 Santiago:

Article 148 Family Code – Rules on Co-ownership regarding polygamous/ bigamous marriages, adulterous or combuniage relationships.

“In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding Article, only the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be equal. The same rule and presumption shall apply to joint deposits of money and evidences of credit.

If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership shall accrue to the absolute community or conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of the preceding Article.

The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both parties are in bad faith.”

Article 40 of the Family Code – Judicial Declaration of Nullity of Marriage.

“The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.”

Yee cannot claim the benefits earned by the SPO4 as a police officer as her marriage to the deceased is void due to bigamy. She is only entitled to the properties acquired with the deceased through their actual joint contribution. Wages and salaries earned by each party belong to him or her exclusively. Hence, they are not owned in common by Yee and the deceased, but belong to the deceased alone and Yee has no right whatsoever to claim the same. By intestate succession, the said “death benefits” of the deceased shall pass to his legal heirs. And, Yee, not being the legal wife, is not one of them.

As regards to the first marriage, the marriage between Nicdao and SPO4 is null and void due to absence of a valid marriage license. Nicdao can claim the death benefits by the deceased even if she did not contribute thereto. Article 147 creates a co-ownership in respect thereto, entitling Nicdao to share one-half of the benefits. As there is no allegation of bad faith in the first marriage, she can claim one-half of the disputed death benefits and the other half to the deceased’ to his legal heirs, by intestate succession.

The marriage between Yee and SPO4 is likewise null and void for the same has been solemnized without the judicial declaration of the nullity of the marriage between Nicdao and SPO4. Under Article 40, if a party who is previously married wishes to contract a second marriage, he or she has to obtain first a judicial decree declaring the first marriage void, before he or she could contract said second marriage, otherwise the second marriage would be void. However, for purposes other than to remarry, no prior and separate judicial declaration of nullity is necessary.

* Case digest by Neah Hope L. Bato, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018