Saturday, February 25, 2012

Van Dorn vs. Ronillo, Jr., [139 SCRA 139]

Facts: Petitioner, a Filipino citizen and respondent, a US citizen, were divorced in Nevada, United States. Respondent, through representation in the divorce proceedings agreed to the divorce on the ground of incompatibility in the understanding that there was neither community property nor community obligations. 

June 18, 1983, respondent filed a suit against petitioner in the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City asking that petitioner be ordered to declare her business in Ermita, Manila (the Galleon Shop) a conjugal property, thereby, granting respondent the right to manage the business. Petitioner moved to dismiss the case on the ground that the cause of action is barred by previous judgment in divorce proceedings in Nevada. The court denied her Motion to Dismiss stating that since the property is located in the Philippines, the divorce decree has no bearing. 

Issue: Whether or not the Nevada Divorce Decree of the parties is recognized in the jurisdiction of the Philippines. 

Held: Yes. The Court held that Article 15 of the Civil Code provides that only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against absolute divorces. However, aliens who obtained divorces abroad may be recognized in this jurisdiction provided they are valid according their national law. In this case, the divorce in Nevada is valid; private respondent is released from the marriage from the standards of the American law, hence, he is not entitled to exercise control over conjugal properties.

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