Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nullity of marriage under Art. 36, Family Code; conjugal property (co-ownership rule) need not be liquidated in the same judgment.

ALAIN M. DIÑO vs. MA. CARIDAD L. DIÑO, G.R. No. 178044, January 19, 2011


X x x.

The Court has ruled in Valdes v. RTC, Branch 102, Quezon City that in a void marriage, regardless of its cause, the property relations of the parties during the period of cohabitation is governed either by Article 147 or Article 148 of the Family Code.7 Article 147 of the Family Code applies to union of parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by any impediment to contract marriage, but whose marriage is nonetheless void,8 such as petitioner and respondent in the case before the Court.

Article 147 of the Family Code provides:

Article 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.


For Article 147 of the Family Code to apply, the following elements must be present:

1. The man and the woman must be capacitated to marry each other;
2. They live exclusively with each other as husband and wife; and
3. Their union is without the benefit of marriage, or their marriage is void.9


All these elements are present in this case and there is no question that Article 147 of the Family Code applies to the property relations between petitioner and respondent.

We agree with petitioner that the trial court erred in ordering that a decree of absolute nullity of marriage shall be issued only after liquidation, partition and distribution of the parties’ properties under Article 147 of the Family Code. The ruling has no basis because Section 19(1) of the Rule does not apply to cases governed under Articles 147 and 148 of the Family Code. Section 19(1) of the Rule provides:

Sec. 19. Decision. - (1) If the court renders a decision granting the petition, it shall declare therein that the decree of absolute nullity or decree of annulment shall be issued by the court only after compliance with Articles 50 and 51 of the Family Code as implemented under the Rule on Liquidation, Partition and Distribution of Properties.


The pertinent provisions of the Family Code cited in Section 19(1) of the Rule are:

Article 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 45.10

The final judgment in such cases 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 of 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.

Article 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 of 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.

It is clear from Article 50 of the Family Code that Section 19(1) of the Rule applies only to marriages which are declared void ab initio or annulled by final judgment under Articles 40 and 45 of the Family Code. In short, Article 50 of the Family Code does not apply to marriages which are declared void ab initio under Article 36 of the Family Code, which should be declared void without waiting for the liquidation of the properties of the parties.

Article 40 of the Family Code contemplates a situation where a second or bigamous marriage was contracted. Under Article 40, “[t]he 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.” Thus we ruled:

x x x where the absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked for purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law, for said projected marriage to be free from legal infirmity, is a final judgment declaring a previous marriage void.11
Article 45 of the Family Code, on the other hand, refers to voidable marriages, meaning, marriages which are valid until they are set aside by final judgment of a competent court in an action for annulment.12 In both instances under Articles 40 and 45, the marriages are governed either by absolute community of property13 or conjugal partnership of gains14 unless the parties agree to a complete separation of property in a marriage settlement entered into before the marriage. Since the property relations of the parties is governed by absolute community of property or conjugal partnership of gains, there is a need to liquidate, partition and distribute the properties before a decree of annulment could be issued. That is not the case for annulment of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code because the marriage is governed by the ordinary rules on co-ownership.

In this case, petitioner’s marriage to respondent was declared void under Article 3615 of the Family Code and not under Article 40 or 45. Thus, what governs the liquidation of properties owned in common by petitioner and respondent are the rules on co-ownership. In Valdes, the Court ruled that the property relations of parties in a void marriage during the period of cohabitation is governed either by Article 147 or Article 148 of the Family Code.16 The rules on co-ownership apply and the properties of the spouses should be liquidated in accordance with the Civil Code provisions on co-ownership. Under Article 496 of the Civil Code, “[p]artition may be made by agreement between the parties or by judicial proceedings. x x x.” It is not necessary to liquidate the properties of the spouses in the same proceeding for declaration of nullity of marriage.


WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision of the trial court with the MODIFICATION that the decree of absolute nullity of the marriage shall be issued upon finality of the trial court’s decision without waiting for the liquidation, partition, and distribution of the parties’ properties under Article 147 of the Family Code.
SO ORDERED.

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