Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Proofs of foreign divorce - G.R. No. 183622

"x x x.

Nonetheless, the fact of divorce must still first be proven as we have enunciated in Garcia v. Recio,9 to wit:

Respondent is getting ahead of himself. Before a foreign judgment is given presumptive evidentiary value, the document must first be presented and admitted in evidence. A divorce obtained abroad is proven by the divorce decree itself. Indeed the best evidence of a judgment is the judgment itself. The decree purports to be a written act or record of an act of an official body or tribunal of a foreign country.

Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the other hand, a writing or document may be proven as a public or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication or (2) a copy thereof attested by the officer having legal custody of the document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office.

The divorce decree between respondent and Editha Samson appears to be an authentic one issued by an Australian family court. However, appearance is not sufficient; compliance with the aforementioned rules on evidence must be demonstrated.

Fortunately for respondent's cause, when the divorce decree of May 18, 1989 was submitted in evidence, counsel for petitioner objected, not to its admissibility, but only to the fact that it had not been registered in the Local Civil Registry of Cabanatuan City. The trial court ruled that it was admissible, subject to petitioner's qualification. Hence, it was admitted in evidence and accorded weight by the judge. Indeed, petitioner's failure to object properly rendered the divorce decree admissible as a written act of the Family Court of Sydney, Australia.

x x x."