FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 122749. July 31, 1996]

ANTONIO A. S. VALDES, petitioner, vs. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 102, QUEZON CITY, and CONSUELO M. GOMEZ-VALDES, respondents.

D E C I S I O N

VITUG, J.:

The petition for review bewails, purely on a question of law, an alleged error committed by the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. Q-92-12539. Petitioner avers that the court a quo has failed to apply the correct law that should govern the disposition of a family dwelling in a situation where a marriage is declared void ab initio because of psychological incapacity on the part of either or both of the parties to the contract.

The pertinent facts giving rise to this incident are, by and large, not in dispute.

Antonio Valdes and Consuelo Gomez were married on 05 January 1971. Begotten during the marriage were five children. In a petition, dated 22 June 1992, Valdes sought the declaration of nullity of the marriage pursuant to Article 36 of the Family Code (docketed Civil Case No. Q-92-12539, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 102). After hearing the parties following the joinder of issues, the trial court,[1] in its decision of 29 July 1994, granted the petition; viz:

"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

"(1) The marriage of petitioner Antonio Valdes and respondent Consuelo Gomez-Valdes is hereby declared null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code on the ground of their mutual psychological incapacity to comply with their essential marital obligations;

"(2) The three older children, Carlos Enrique III, Antonio Quintin and Angela Rosario shall choose which parent they would want to stay with.

"Stella Eloisa and Joaquin Pedro shall be placed in the custody of their mother, herein respondent Consuelo Gomez-Valdes.

"The petitioner and respondent shall have visitation rights over the children who are in the custody of the other.

"(3) The petitioner and respondent are directed to start proceedings on the liquidation of their common properties as defined by Article 147 of the Family Code, and to comply with the provisions of Articles 50, 51 and 52 of the same code, within thirty (30) days from notice of this decision.

"Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, for proper recording in the registry of marriages."[2] (Italics ours)

Consuelo Gomez sought a clarification of that portion of the decision directing compliance with Articles 50, 51 and 52 of the Family Code. She asserted that the Family Code contained no provisions on the procedure for the liquidation of common property in "unions without marriage." Parenthetically, during the hearing on the motion, the children filed a joint affidavit expressing their desire to remain with their father, Antonio Valdes, herein petitioner.

In an Order, dated 05 May 1995, the trial court made the following clarification:

"Consequently, considering that Article 147 of the Family Code explicitly provides that the property acquired by both parties during their union, in the absence of proof to the contrary, are presumed to have been obtained through the joint efforts of the parties and will be owned by them in equal shares, plaintiff and defendant will own their 'family home' and all their other properties for that matter in equal shares.

"In the liquidation and partition of the properties owned in common by the plaintiff and defendant, the provisions on co-ownership found in the Civil Code shall apply."[3] (Italics supplied)

In addressing specifically the issue regarding the disposition of the family dwelling, the trial court said:

"Considering that this Court has already declared the marriage between petitioner and respondent as null and void ab initio, pursuant to Art. 147, the property regime of petitioner and respondent shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.

"The provisions of Articles 102 and 129 of the Family Code finds no application since Article 102 refers to the procedure for the liquidation of the conjugal partnership property and Article 129 refers to the procedure for the liquidation of the absolute community of property."[4]

Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the order. The motion was denied on 30 October 1995.

In his recourse to this Court, petitioner submits that Articles 50, 51 and 52 of the Family Code should be held controlling; he argues that:

"I

"Article 147 of the Family Code does not apply to cases where the parties are psychological incapacitated.

"II

"Articles 50, 51 and 52 in relation to Articles 102 and 129 of the Family Code govern the disposition of the family dwelling in cases where a marriage is declared void ab initio, including a marriage declared void by reason of the psychological incapacity of the spouses.

"III

"Assuming arguendo that Article 147 applies to marriages declared void ab initio on the ground of the psychological incapacity of a spouse, the same may be read consistently with Article 129.

"IV

"It is necessary to determine the parent with whom majority of the children wish to stay."[5]

The trial court correctly applied the law. In a void marriage, regardless of the cause thereof, the property relations of the parties during the period of cohabitation is governed by the provisions of Article 147 or Article 148, such as the case may be, of the Family Code. Article 147 is a remake of Article 144 of the Civil Code as interpreted and so applied in previous cases;[6] it provides:

"ART. 147. 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."

This peculiar kind of co-ownership applies when a man and a woman, suffering no legal impediment to marry each other, so exclusively live together as husband and wife under a void marriage or without the benefit of marriage. The term "capacitated" in the provision (in the first paragraph of the law) refers to the legal capacity of a party to contract marriage, i.e., any "male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments mentioned in Articles 37 and 38"[7] of the Code.

Under this property regime, property acquired by both spouses through their work and industry shall be governed by the rules on equal co-ownership. Any property acquired during the union is prima facie presumed to have been obtained through their joint efforts. A party who did not participate in the acquisition of the property shall still be considered as having contributed thereto jointly if said party's "efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family household."[8] Unlike the conjugal partnership of gains, the fruits of the couple's separate property are not included in the co-ownership.

Article 147 of the Family Code, in substance and to the above extent, has clarified Article 144 of the Civil Code; in addition, the law now expressly provides that

(a) Neither party can dispose or encumber by act inter vivos his or her share in co-ownership property, without the consent of the other, during the period of cohabitation; and

(b) In the case of a void marriage, any party in bad faith shall forfeit his or her share in the co-ownership in favor of their common children; in default thereof or waiver by any or all of the common children, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving descendants, or still in default thereof, to the innocent party. The forfeiture shall take place upon the termination of the cohabitation[9] or declaration of nullity of the marriage.[10]

When the common-law spouses suffer from a legal impediment to marry or when they do not live exclusively with each other (as husband and wife ),only the property acquired by both of them through their actual joint contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned in common and in proportion to their respective contributions. Such contributions and corresponding shares, however, are prima facie presumed to be equal. The share of any party who is married to another shall accrue to the absolute community or conjugal partnership, as the case may be, if so existing under a valid marriage. If the party who has acted in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her share shall be forfeited in the manner already heretofore expressed.[11]

In deciding to take further cognizance of the issue on the settlement of the parties' common property, the trial court acted neither imprudently nor precipitately; a court which has jurisdiction to declare the marriage a nullity must be deemed likewise clothed with authority to resolve incidental and consequential matters. Nor did it commit a reversible error in ruling that petitioner and private respondent own the "family home" and all their common property in equal shares, as well as in concluding that, in the liquidation and partition of the property owned in common by them, the provisions on co-ownership under the Civil Code, not Articles 50, 51 and 52, in relation to Articles 102 and 129,[12] of the Family Code, should aptly prevail. The rules set up to govern the liquidation of either the absolute community or the conjugal partnership of gains, the property regimes recognized for valid and voidable marriages (in the latter case until the contract is annulled ),are irrelevant to the liquidation of the co-ownership that exists between common-law spouses. The first paragraph of Article 50 of the Family Code, applying paragraphs (2 ),(3 ),(4) and (5) of Article 43,[13] relates only, by its explicit terms, to voidable marriages and, exceptionally, to void marriages under Article 40[14] of the Code, i.e., the declaration of nullity of a subsequent marriage contracted by a spouse of a prior void marriage before the latter is judicially declared void. The latter is a special rule that somehow recognizes the philosophy and an old doctrine that void marriages are inexistent from the very beginning and no judicial decree is necessary to establish their nullity. In now requiring for purposes of remarriage, the declaration of nullity by final judgment of the previously contracted void marriage, the present law aims to do away with any continuing uncertainty on the status of the second marriage. It is not then illogical for the provisions of Article 43, in relation to Articles 41[15] and 42,[16] of the Family Code, on the effects of the termination of a subsequent marriage contracted during the subsistence of a previous marriage to be made applicable pro hac vice. In all other cases, it is not to be assumed that the law has also meant to have coincident property relations, on the one hand, between spouses in valid and voidable marriages (before annulment) and, on the other, between common-law spouses or spouses of void marriages, leaving to ordain, in the latter case, the ordinary rules on co-ownership subject to the provision of Article 147 and Article 148 of the Family Code. It must be stressed, nevertheless, even as it may merely state the obvious, that the provisions of the Family Code on the "family home," i.e., the provisions found in Title V, Chapter 2, of the Family Code, remain in force and effect regardless of the property regime of the spouses.

WHEREFORE, the questioned orders, dated 05 May 1995 and 30 October 1995, of the trial court are AFFIRMED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Padilla, Kapunan, and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.

Bellosillo, J., on leave.



[1] Hon. Perlita Tria Tirona, presiding.

[2] Rollo, p. 22.

[3] Rollo, p. 42.

[4] Rollo, pp. 38-39.

[5] Rollo, pp. 24-25.

[6] See Margaret Maxey vs. Court of Appeals, 129 SCRA 187; Aznar, et al. vs. Garcia, et al., 102 Phil. 1055.

[7] Art. 5.Any male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments mentioned in Articles 37 and 38, may contract marriage.

Art. 37.Marriages between the following are incestuous and void from the beginning, whether the relationship between the parties be legitimate or illegitimate:

(1) Between ascendants and descendants of any degree; and

(2) Between brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half-blood.

Art. 38. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning for reasons of public policy:

(1) Between collateral blood relatives; whether legitimate or illegitimate, up to the fourth civil degree;

(2) Between step-parents and stepchildren;

(3) Between parents-in-law and children-in-law;

(4) Between the adopting parent and the adopted child;

(5) Between the surviving spouse of the adopting parent and the adopted child;

(6) Between the surviving spouse of the adopted child and the adopter;

(7) Between an adopted child and a legitimate child of the adopter;

(8) Between adopted children of the same adopter; and

(9) Between parties where one, with the intention to marry the other, killed that other person's spouse or his or her own spouse.

[8] Article 147, Family Code.

[9] Article 147, Family Code.

[10] Articles 43, 50 and 51, Family Code.

[11] Article 148, Family Code.

[12] Art. 50. The effects provided for in paragraphs (2 ),(3 ),(4) and (5) of Article 43 and in Article 44 shall also apply in proper cases to marriages which are declared void ab initio or annulled by final judgment under Articles 40 and 45.

The final judgment in such case shall provide for the liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses, the custody and support of the common children, and the delivery of their presumptive legitimes, unless such matters had been adjudicated in previous judicial proceedings.

All creditors of the spouses as well as of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership shall be notified of the proceedings for liquidation.

In the partition, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated, shall be adjudicated in accordance with the provisions of Articles 102 and 129.

Art. 51. In said partition, the value of the presumptive legitimes of all common children, computed as of the date of the final judgment of the trial court, shall be delivered in cash, property or sound securities, unless the parties, by mutual agreement judicially approved, had already provided for such matters.

The children or their guardian, or the trustee of their property, may ask for the enforcement of the judgment.

The delivery of the presumptive legitimes herein prescribed shall in no way prejudice the ultimate successional rights of the children accruing upon the death of either or both of the parents; but the value of the properties already received under the decree of annulment or absolute nullity shall be considered as advances on their legitime.

Art. 52. The judgment of annulment or of absolute nullity of the marriage, the partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses, and the delivery of the children's presumptive legitimes shall be recorded in the appropriate civil registry and registries of property; otherwise, the same shall not affect third persons.

Art. 102. Upon dissolution of the absolute community regime, the following procedure shall apply:

(1) An inventory shall be prepared, listing separately all the properties of the absolute community and the exclusive properties of each spouse.

(2) The debts and obligations of the absolute community shall be paid out of its assets. In case of insufficiency of said assets, the spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate properties in accordance with the provisions of the second paragraph of Article 94.

(3) Whatever remains of the exclusive properties of the spouses shall thereafter be delivered to each of them.

(4) The net remainder of the properties of the absolute community shall constitute its net assets, which shall be divided equally between husband and wife, unless a different proportion or division was agreed upon in the marriage settlements, or unless there has been a voluntary waiver of such share as provided in this Code. For purposes of computing the net profits subject to forfeiture in accordance with Articles 43, No. (2) and 63, No. (2 ), the said profits shall be the increase in value between the market value of the community property at the time of the celebration of the marriage and the market value at the time of its dissolution.

(5) The presumptive legitimes of the common children shall be delivered upon partition, in accordance with Article 51.

(6) Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, in the partition of the properties, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated shall be adjudicated to the spouse with whom the majority of the common children choose to remain. Children below the age of seven years are deemed to have chosen the mother, unless the court has decided otherwise. In case there is no such majority, the court shall decide, taking into consideration the best interests of said children.

Art. 129. Upon the dissolution of the conjugal partnership regime, the following procedure shall apply;

(1) An inventory shall be prepared, listing separately all the properties of the conjugal partnership and the exclusive properties of each spouse.

(2) Amounts advanced by the conjugal partnership in payment of personal debts and obligations of either spouse shall be credited to the conjugal partnership as an asset thereof.

(3) Each spouse shall be reimbursed for the use of his or her exclusive funds in the acquisition of property or for the value of his or her exclusive property, the ownership of which has been vested by law in the conjugal partnership.

(4) The debts and obligations of the conjugal partnership shall be paid out of the conjugal assets. In case of insufficiency of said assets, the spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate properties, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (2) of Article 121.

(5) Whatever remains of the exclusive properties of the spouses shall thereafter be delivered to each of them.

(6) Unless the owner has been indemnified from whatever source, the loss or deterioration of movables used for the benefit of the family, belonging to either spouse, even due to fortuitous event, shall be paid to said spouse from the conjugal funds, if any.

(7) The net remainder of the conjugal partnership properties shall constitute the profits, which shall be divided equally between husband and wife, unless a different proportion or division was agreed upon in the marriage settlements or unless there has been a voluntary waiver or forfeiture of such share as provided in this Code.

(8) The presumptive legitimes of the common children shall be delivered upon partition in accordance with Article 51.

(9) In the partition of the properties, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated shall, unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, be adjudicated to the spouse with whom the majority of the common children choose to remain. Children below the age of seven years are deemed to have chosen the mother, unless the court has decided otherwise. In case there is no such majority, the court shall decide, taking into consideration the best interests of said children.

[13] Art. 43. The termination of the subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding Article shall produce the following effects:

(1) The children of the subsequent marriage conceived prior to its termination shall be considered legitimate, and their custody and support in case of dispute shall be decided by the court in a proper proceeding;

(2) The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as the case may be, shall be dissolved and liquidated, but if either spouse contracted said marriage in bad faith, his or her share of the net profits of the community property or conjugal partnership property shall be forfeited in favor of the common children or, if there are none, the children of the guilty spouse by a previous marriage or, in default of children, the innocent spouse;

(3) Donations by reason or marriage shall remain valid, except that if the donee contracted the marriage in bad faith, such donations made to said donee are revoked by operation of law;

(4) The innocent spouse may revoke the designation of the other spouse who acted in bad faith as a beneficiary in any insurance policy, even if such designation be stipulated as irrevocable; and

(5) The spouse who contracted the subsequent marriage in bad faith shall be disqualified to inherit from the innocent spouse by testate and intestate succession.

[14] Art. 40. 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.

[15] Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.

For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse.

[16] Art. 42. The subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding Article shall be automatically terminated by the recording of the affidavit of reappearance of the absent spouse, unless there is a judgment annulling the previous marriage or declaring it void ab initio.

A sworn statement of the fact and circumstances of reappearance shall be recorded in the civil registry of the residence of the parties to the subsequent marriage at the instance of any interested person, with due notice to the spouses of the subsequent marriage and without prejudice to the fact of reappearance being judicially determined in case such fact is disputed.