Friday, December 16, 2011

Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas, G.R. No. 186571, 11 August 2010

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Facts: A became a Canadian citizen through naturalization. a later married B a Filipino. A worked abroad and when he came back to see B, B was having an affair. A filed a petition for Divorce in Canada which was granted.

A fell in love with C. A went to the Civil Registry Office and registered the Canadian divorce decree Despite the registration of the divorce decree, an official of the National Statistics Office (“NSO”) informed him that the marriage between him and B still subsists. To be enforceable, the foreign divorce decree must first be judicially recognized by a competent Philippine court, pursuant to a NSO Circular.

RTC- A was NOT THE PROPER PARTY to institute the action for judicial recognition of the foreign divorce decree as he is a NATURALIZED CANADIAN CITIZEN. It ruled that ONLY THE FILIPINO spouse can avail of the remedy, under Art. 26, ¶2 of the Family Code.1

Issue: WON Art. 26, ¶2 extends to aliens the right to petition a court of this jurisdiction for the recognition of a foreign divorce decree.

Held: NO. The alien spouse can claim no right under Art. 26, ¶2 of the Family Code as the substantive right it establishes is in favor of the FILIPINO SPOUSE.

Art. 26, ¶2 was included in the law to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. The legislative intent is for the benefit of the Filipino spouse, by clarifying his or her marital status, settling the doubts created by the divorce decree. Essentially, Art. 26, ¶2 provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to have his or her marriage to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating him or her to remarry. Without Art. 26, ¶2, the judicial recognition of the foreign decree of divorce, whether in a proceeding instituted precisely for that purpose or as a related issue in another proceeding, would be of no significance to the Filipino spouse since our laws do not recognize divorce as a mode of severing the marital bond.

An action based on Art. 26, ¶2 is not limited to the recognition of the foreign divorce decree. If the court finds that the decree capacitated the alien spouse to remarry, the courts can declare that the Filipino spouse is likewise capacitated to contract another marriage. However, no Philippine court can make a similar declaration for the alien spouse, whose status and legal capacity are generally governed by his national law. 

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